A weekly feature from from ctvnews.ca! The Crouse Review is a quick, hot take on the weekend’s biggest movies! This week Richard looks at the comedy thriller “Game Night” with Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams, the romance-in-the-age of instalove, “Every Day” and the berserko “Mom and Dad” with Nicolas Cage and Selma Blair.
Richard and CP24 anchor Nathan Downer have a look at the weekend’s new movies including the comedy thriller “Game Night” with Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams, the romance-in-the-age of instalove, “Every Day” and the berserko “Mom and Dad” with Nicolas Cage and Selma Blair.
Richard sits in with CTV NewsChannel anchor Marcia MacMillan to have a look at the weekend’s big releases, the comedy thriller “Game Night” with Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams, the romance-in-the-age of instalove, “Every Day” and the berserko “Mom and Dad” with Nicolas Cage and Selma Blair.
This is Jesse Plemons like we’ve never seen him. Best known for a trio of dramatic roles on television—Landry Clarke in the football drama Friday Night Lights, Todd Alquist in crime series Breaking Bad and Ed Blumquist in Fargo—he has made a name playing characters he describes as “intense or creepy.”
On the phone from Los Angeles to chat up his new comedy Game Night, he’s neither of those things. Friendly and soft-spoken, he says his latest character Gary, a cop with a broken heart and a suspicious nature, “feels like he was in his own movie or had snuck from some other movie and just seemed really out of place.”
Game Night sees Plemons as the oddball neighbour to Max and Annie, played by Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams. The hypercompetitive couple host weekly game nights, get-togethers Gary used to be invited to before he divorced their friend Debbie. When an innocent murder mystery game escalates to real life danger Max and Annie welcome Gary’s expertise in law enforcement.
Plemons hasn’t done a lot of comedy but says he liked Game Night immediately.
“You read a lot of scripts,” he says, “and I find that you know pretty early on whether you respond to it or not. It is pretty rare to read a comedy script and actually laugh out loud sitting by yourself.”
To create the character Plemons, who will soon be seen alongside Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci in the Martin Scorsese movie The Irishman, mixed deadpan delivery with a thousand-yard-stare that is as unnerving as it is funny.
“I watched a lot of cops for inspiration,” he says. “Not to say I ever found a Gary per se, but I felt like it was an easy world to step into.”
When I mention that Gary’s situation—he’s a lonely sad sack, still pining for his ex wife—might make it easy for an audience to feel sorry for him and not laugh, he shudders.
“I didn’t even think about that,” he says. “I should have been worried about that but somehow I wasn’t. I could immediately picture him. I feel like everyone has come across someone in their lives who is a great person but you don’t necessarily want to talk to them. There is something really sweet and innocent about Gary that I really liked and I think maybe that’s what people will respond to.
“No matter what genre I am doing I still try and try to bring truth and honesty to it. That is also the kind of comedy I respond to. Not that I don’t like broad comedy but this is something I haven’t been able to play around with in the past.”
Ultimately, however, he says the only difference between playing drama and comedy is “that it is hard to escape that, ‘I hope people laugh,” thought in the back of your mind.”
He says Game Night, like his recent appearance in Oscar nominated The Post, offered up the chance to do something new and stretch as an actor.
“That’s what I love about acting,” he says. “I don’t feel like you ever really arrive or feel like you’ve done it all. There is always a new part, a new story to try and figure out.”
“Game Night” is a new thriller comedy with Jason Bateman that is more comedy than actual thriller.
Bateman and Rachel McAdams are Max and Annie, two competitive people who meet at a trivia night, bond over obscure “Teletubbies” facts, fall in love and get married. They’re so into games they even play Just Dance at the wedding reception.
Cut to a couple of years later. They are comfortably tucked away in the suburbs and hosting weekly game nights with friends, the dimwitted Ryan (Billy Magnussen) and long time couple Kevin and Sarah (Lamorne Morris and Hamilton, Ontario-born Kylie Bunbury). They used to invite neighbours Debbie and Gary (Jesse Plemons), but since Debbie moved out they take great pains to ensure that Gary, a creepy cop, doesn’t find out about their get-togethers.
On a personal level they’re trying to have a baby, but it isn’t going well. Their doctor (Camille Chen) thinks stress is making it impossible for them to conceive. The source? Max’s brother Brooks (Kyle Chandler), a good looking, venture capitalist who loves to flaunt his wealth. “He’s like the Mark Wahlberg to Max’s Donnie,” says Ryan.
When Brooks rolls into town, driving Max’s dream car, a vintage Stingray, he throws a special game night at his new, rented mansion. With no Risk, Scrabble or Monopoly in sight, the regular gamers gather for a murder mystery party. The winner gets the Stingray. “This will be a game night to remember,” Brooks says.
When the murder mystery turns into a real kidnapping the game players are sucked into a world of intrigue as they have to solve the “game.“ Seems there’s more to Brooks than meets the eye. “I can’t believe your brother has been lying to us this whole time,” guffaws Ryan. “He’s even cooler than I thought.”
This isn’t a Hitchcock movie. There’s no real mystery in “Game Night,” just some twists and turns and engaging performances from a cast game to have fun. It’s more about spending time with the characters on their wild night out.
Much of the humour comes from the casual back-and-forth between Bateman and McAdams. They interact like an old married couple, not people in a bad situation. Bateman is a natural at this kind of deadpan comedy and McAdams, who generally features in dramas, keeps pace. Their chemistry is one of the reasons this slight comedy works as well as it does.
Magnussen, who plays a likable dim bulb, and Morris and Bunbury who work their way through a mystery of their own making aid the above-the-title stars. The biggest surprise and certainly the film’s oddest performance belongs to Plemons. Best known for his work on “Breaking Bad” and “Fargo,” he mixes deadpan delivery with a thousand-yard-stare that is as unnerving as it is funny.
“Game Night” isn’t slap your knee funny but it is an amiable enough comedy that makes up in charm what it lacks in procedural thrills.