Game Night by Mark Perez
Entertaining and amusing?
One is reminded of The Game, with Michael Douglas and Sean Penn, a much better film on this theme, when watching the mystery-comedy-crime motion picture where some people take games to an extreme.
A classic of Psychology is called Game People Play, by the wondrous Eric Berne, who writes about the interactions – his domain is called transactional analysis- we have with various people, from the ones we just say hello, how are you to, to the more complicated, marital relations.
If It Weren’t For You is one of the most common games played in marriages, where it is common to have one, the other, or both partners accusing each other that they blocked the path to glory for their spouse.
In Game Night, we have quite a bit of Psychology and some clever insights into the motives driving Max aka the amiable Jason Bateman, his bother Brooks and some of the other protagonists, not least of all officer and neighbor Gary, with his willingness to exaggerate in order to get invited to Game Night.
Max, Annie and their friends are very interested, to use an euphemism, in playing games of all kinds, charades, scrabble, you name it and they get together regularly for that purpose, on this special night- and others- at the home of the married couple, Annie and Max.
They have not invited the divorced Gary, who is not liked by the gamers, especially after he has divorced his wife and they have told their friends to get in the house discreetly, which for them means that they will just fall off in the living room from a window.
However, all this discretion is of no use when the celebrated brother, Brooks arrives driving a hot Corvette car, with burning tires and Formula One maneuvers, dispelling any impression that the couple have a quiet evening together, as they had claimed in front of their suspicious neighbor, who is also a police officer.
All his life, Max has looked up to his more successful, richer brother, who has been in finance, brokerage firms, has the car that his less wealthy sibling had always dreamed of and the palace he inhabits is simply royal and the epitome of luxury.
Brooks has a new Game in mind, wherein some actors would come in and kidnap one of those present, they will have to use all their talents to find the “criminals” and then the winner will be awarded the special, extraordinary Prize: the ultra-expensive Corvette.
Some men break in and start trashing the luxuriant abode of the mastermind, beating him cruelly in the meantime, making the guests wonder about their acting skills throughout and after the performance.
They look at the clues they have and start competing to find the missing Brooks and when Max and Annie reach him, it is soon clear that there is something wrong with this Game, in which the innocent brother is shot- well, only in the hand.
As they drive away from the scene of the crime, Brooks explains that he is not a successful financier or broker, not anymore, he is actually a wanted man, The Bulgarian is off to kill him and this last episode was not the game he had in mind and he would better surrender so that he will not imperil the others.
With that said, he jumps from the moving car and all the friends are left clueless as to where the loved brother and friend might be found next, up to the point where they see that the neighbor would have access to a police data base and they can look in there.
This is where we are supposed to be amused- and in other scenes evidently- as the party of people who had denied invitation and access to Gary is now outside his door, very interested in a game with the host, as they sit down, Max is off to the bathroom and as expected he tries to get access into the police database while the dog comes to him.
His wound starts bleeding on the rug and the dog, as he tries to clean it, the schnauzer makes the common wet dog move and sends blood all over the office, on the walls, the many photographs of the now divorced couple and there is no way that anyone could fix all that messy room.
Time is of the essence, once the information is obtained, the group of eager gamers has lost all interest in any new entertainment and they depart in a hurry, to try to offer the Faberge egg…oops, that is broken, but in a fury of developments, changes, new clues, twists and jokes, there might be something within the broken shell…
And besides, there is a new bend in this river of changes and another aspect of the Game is revealed- although nothing like the Michael Douglas plunge into the void, from the top of a skyscraper of all places, only to be…saved from the myriad of pieces of broken glass and debris at the end of- spoiler alert- The Game.
At one stage, it felt like too much, too many changes and returns- this is a game we will play, oops, this is real, then we have another game and mastermind and this is –yet again- a real change in the plot and then they joke, saying it is still a game, they reveal what is going on, only to make it look like some new team of actors or real criminals are about to be inserted, maybe right at the end…