Game Night (2018)

Directors: John Francis Daley, Jonathan Goldstein

Writer: Mark Perez (Screenplay)

Starring: Jason Bateman, Rachel McAdams, Kyle Chandler, Sharon Horgan, Billy Magnussen, Lamorne Morris, Kyle Bunbury

 

Plot: A group of friends who meet regularly for game nights find themselves entangled in a real-life mystery.


Tagline – This is not a game.

Runtime: 1 Hour 40 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Funny Comedy

 

Story: Game Night starts as competitive couple Max (Bateman) and Annie (McAdams) preparing for the latest game night with friends Ryan (Magnussen), Kevin (Morris) and Michelle (Bunbury) when Max’s brother Brooks (Chandler) arrives to put Max off his game.

When Brooks invites the group and Ryan’s trademark random date Sarah (Horgan) to his hosted Game Night, it involves one member of the party being kidnapped and the rest needing to solve the case. The night takes a twist when Brook is really kidnapped by criminals and the friends must work together to stay alive.

 

Thoughts on Game Night

 

Characters – Max has always been competitive when it comes to quiz or game nights, he has his perfect match in Annie, but has always been overshadowed by his brother and now he must be the one to help his brother. Annie is the perfect match for Max, strangely we don’t learn much else about her through the film, which is easily going to be the problem with most of the characters, we enter just one night of their lives, so we don’t need to learn too much back story. Brooks is the brother that has a shady past that has caught up with him tonight. Ryan and Sarah are funny as the first date couple that don’t want to admit their attraction and Kevin and Michelle as the married couple who are going through a situation.

PerformancesJason Bateman gives us one of his best comedic performances of his career and his chemistry and Rachel McAdams who shows she can handle the comedy genre whenever she wants. The supporting cast all get the laughs with Billy Magnussen getting most of the laughs and Jesse Plemons seems to steal every scene.

StoryThe story follows a group of friends that entertain on a weekly game night only for the latest one to take a deadly twist as they must take on criminals. The film takes place over one night which helps the story keep the pacing with each situation the friends finding themselves in feeling legitimate for the story. while we don’t learn too much about the characters we get everything we want from the story unfold which does keep us guessing.

Comedy/Crime/MysteryThe comedy in the film hits on the most part with each character offering different moments of laughs with Billy Magnussen and Jesse Plemons giving the most laughs. The crime twists the game night to what is real or not through the film which increases the suspense and the mystery keeps us guessing throughout.

SettingsThe film is set in one city over one night, which puts the characters that don’t normally attend.


Scene of the Movie –
Nearly every scene with Jesse Plemons.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Tries too much for twists.

Final ThoughtsThis is a fun comedy that hits on the laughs more often than it misses and does keep us guessing to where the story will go with characters that will make you laugh throughout.

 

Overall: Comedy film I enjoyed.

Rating

 

 

Malin Akerman Weekend – Couples Retreat (2009)

Director: Peter Billingsley

Writer: Jon Favreau, Vince Vaughn, Dana Fox (Screenplay)

Starring: Vince Vaughn, Jason Bateman, Faizon Love, Jon Favreau, Malin Akerman, Kristen Bell, Kristin David, Kali Hawk, Tasha Smith, Jean Reno

 

Plot: A comedy centered around four couples who settle into a tropical-island resort for a vacation. While one of the couples is there to work on the marriage, the others fail to realize that participation in the resort’s therapy sessions is not optional.


Tagline –  A comedy about a vacation in paradise they’ll never forget

Runtime: 1 Hour 53 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Nice Well Casted Comedy

 

Story: Couples Retreat starts as we meet the four couples at the different stages of their relationships, Dave (Vaughn) & Ronnie (Akerman) who have infant kids, Joey (Favreau) & Lucy (Davis) who are about to see their kid go off to college, leaving them to go their desperate ways, Shane (Love) who has just separated from his wife and dating 20-year-old Trudy (Hawk) and Jason (Bateman) & Cynthia (Bell) who are struggling to conceive and want the support of their friends by going on the tropical retreat.

Once the couples arrive on the island they learn they all must take part in the exercises, which isn’t what they signed up for and we are left to see which couples will make it through under the guidance of Marcel (Reno) and his theories.

 

Thoughts on Couples Retreat

 

Characters – We have a lot of characters here, we are going to go through the couples first, Dave is a video game designer who has a young family, married to Ronnie, he is the most reluctant to go because of the age of their kids. Ronnie is similar to Dave, the kids are taking their time, taking away from their free time. Jason & Cynthia are the couple that request the help on the holiday, they want children and are two people that are almost identical with their planning. Joey & Lucy have accepted they are going to separate once their daughter goes to college, they are both looking for options on the island because they have been together since high school. Shane has separated from his wife already, he has fallen into a relationship with a 20-year-old in Trudy as part of his mid-life crisis. Trudy is a youngster of the group always unhappy that Shane can’t keep up with her.

PerformancesWe do have a very good cast here, Vince Vaughn gives us his normal comic idea, which is something I enjoy watching, it goes well opposite Jason Bateman’s slightly uptight style. Jon Favreau is good in his role and the most unknown f the four men is Faizon Love that keeps up with the rest well. The women get to focus on the different stages of life too, the thing is they could all be interchangeable in their roles if we are being honest. Kali Hawk is the stand out of the women performers.

StoryThe story follows four couples at different stages of their relationships, this is important because friends will need to learn from their friend’s positions and see where things could go. While this doesn’t always give each relationship, the time required to show where things are going for the couples, but this unleashes more comical moments in the film. While not overly loved by everyone, I feel this does work for the people that will enjoy a simple comedy movie.

ComedyThis comedy does work in most places, we have couples moments and solo moments which work to keep things flowing.

SettingsMost of the film is on the tropical island which gives us the beautiful backdrop for the events.


Scene of the Movie –
Clashing with employees.

That Moment That Annoyed Me We have the man problems, but we don’t see enough of what the women problems are.

Final ThoughtsThis is an enjoyable comedy that hints more often than it misses and has good cast working towards their strengths.

 

Overall: Enjoyable throughout.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Random – T – This is Where I Leave You (2014)

Director: Shawn Levy

Writer: Jonathan Tropper (Screenplay)

Starring: Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Jane Fonda, Adam Driver, Rose Byrne, Corey Stoll, Kathryn Hahn, Connie Britton, Timothy Olyphant

 

Plot: When their father passes away, four grown siblings are forced to return to their childhood home and live under the same roof together for a week, along with their over-sharing mother and an assortment of spouses, exes and might-have-beens.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Must Watch

 

Story: This is Where I Leave You starts as the father of the house passes away, his dying wish is that his family respect Shiva which means the family must spend the week under one roof. This brings Judd (Bateman), Wendy (Fey), Phillip (Driver) and Paul (Stoll) to live with their mother Hillary (Fonda).

As the family comes together memories of the childhood come out as tensions between the siblings come out, as we see the family dynamics come out, we also get to see how the lives they siblings have been living haven’t gone the way they had planned, but most importantly how much they need the family.

 

Thoughts on This is Where I Leave You

 

Characters/PerformanceJudd is a big city producer who earns his wife has been cheating on him, he must return to his home town to be with his family after his father’s death but now he must look at himself and wondering whether he should take more chances in his life. Wendy is the only sister of the siblings who has been married with children but we see the regret in her life as she always wondered what could have been. Phillip is the youngster sibling that has been the loose cannon mostly acting up about not being able to live up to his elder siblings. Paul is the eldest sibling that has been running the family business and trying to start his own family but having troubles. Hillary is their mother that brings the family back together for the funeral, she has always controlled them but also let them live their own life. We also see loved ones and lost loves coming the lives the siblings have lived or are living.

Performance wise, we do have an all-star cast here with Jason Bateman is in the leading role he shows just how capable of an actor he can be, Tina Fey even steps away from the comedy she is known for very well too, Jane Fonda shows us once again she can never be forgotten just how skilled she is, Adam Driver continues to grow his ever-growing body of work with Corey Stoll continuing to make his move up the film world. We also have wonderful performances from the rest of the cast.

StoryThe story of the family coming back together for their father’s or husband’s funeral is one we have seen before, we get to see the problems the family has been having too. This is one of the good ones that covers everything, sure it does seem to be slightly too much for one family but this is one of the most interesting dynamics between the siblings over the weeklong visit.

Comedy/DramaThe comedy used isn’t about a laugh a minute, it is more about the light-hearted moments in life and the drama involved around it shows the relationships the people have with each other.

SettingsThe hometown setting shows how the people of the world have to come back to where it all started to look at how lives went.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the best bringing the family together for a funeral to look at life, the what could have been, the where things are going and is easily one of the most powerful and interesting ones I have seen.

 

Overall: Wonderful family reuniting drama.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Oscar Nomination – U – Up in the Air (2009)

Director: Jason Reitman

Writer: Jason Reitman, Sheldon Turner (Screenplay) Walter Kirn (Novel)

Starring: George Clooney, Vera Farmiga, Anna Kendrick, Jason Bateman, Amy Mortonm Melanie Lynskey, J.K. Simmons, Sam Elliot, Danny McBride

 

Plot: Ryan Bingham enjoys living out of a suitcase for his job traveling around the country firing people, but finds that lifestyle threatened by the presence of a potential love interest and a new hire.


Tagline – From Paramount Pictures comes the story of a man ready to make a connection

Runtime: 1 Hour 49 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Delightful Comedy Drama

 

Story: Up in the Air starts as we meet Ryan Bingham (Clooney) whose job involves travelling around America firing people for companies, he loves being on the road clocking up countless air miles. When young analyst Natalie Keener (Kendrick) comes to Ryan’s boss Craig (Bateman) with an idea that could cut the costs by running the process from the office meaning Ryan and his team are grounded.

To prove his value to the company and show Natalie the ropes, Ryan must take Natalie on the journey to show her how personal the process is and how important the job is too him. Along the way he teaches her life lesson along with his new friend Alex (Farmiga) who enjoys a similar lifestyle.

 

Thoughts on Up in the Air

 

Characters – Ryan Bingham has a career in travelling around firing people for companies, he has it down to an art form, be in conducting the firings or travelling through the airport. He doesn’t like commitment and when he learns that his job is going to be minimized and grounded from travelling, he sets out to prove to his boss and the young woman who created the idea how importance of the personal approach is during this process. Natalie is the young idealistic woman that believes she can help the company save money by taking the role away from Ryan and his co-workers travelling expense, she has her life planned out, but spending time with Ryan she learns more about what life is really about and how to not take away the personal touch out of the process. Alex is a woman that Ryan meets on the road, she travels as often as he does, they start a relationship and meeting her helps Ryan realize what he wants from life.

PerformancesGeorge Clooney is brilliant in this role, his biggest strength has always been to be the confident guy that excels at his job and he gets to show this in every scene as we learn from his characters decisions. Vera Farmiga and Anna Kendrick are both wonderful in their supporting roles, they both get to help Ryan understand different generations of goals.

StoryThe story follows one man whose dream job is being downsized for economic reasons as he must look to show a young woman who has come up with the plan for this process. We get to look at a couple of big life issues going on here, first we see how companies are always looking to downsize for financial reasons, second focuses on the loneliness people have when they focus on their careers, and third just how the plans people believe to have can never go as planned. This is one of the most interesting stories that seems like it has got to a newer level than ever before.

RomanceWe have moments of romance which don’t overshadow the dramatic moments as we light-heartedly follow the story unfold.

SettingsThe film takes us all over America to see different reactions from different people about losing their jobs.


Scene of the Movie –
Letting loose.

That Moment That Annoyed Me I did enjoy every moment of this film.

Final ThoughtsThis is a wonderful and delightful movie that hits all the levels it aims for, for me this is the best Clooney performance of his career and handles the sensitive subject of downsizing and unemployment.

 

Overall: Truly enjoyable movie.

Rating

 

 

 

Jason Bateman Weekend – Horrible Bosses (2011)

horribleDirector: Seth Gordon

Writer: Michael Markowitz, John Francis Daley, Jonathan Goldstein (Screenplay) Michael Markowitz (Story)

Starring: Jason Bateman, Kevin Spacey, Charlie Day, Jennifer Aniston, Jason Sudeikis, Colin Farrell, Donald Sutherland, Jamie Fox

 

Plot: Three friends conspire to murder their awful bosses when they realize they are standing in the way of their happiness.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Enjoyable Comedy

 

Story: Horrible Bosses starts by introducing us in traditional comedy style as we meet Nick (Bateman) who has been working hard for a promotion from Dave Harken (Spacey), dental assistant Dale (Day) who works for crazy horny dentist Dr Julia Harris (Aniston) and Kurt (Sudeikis) who actually likes his boss Jack Pellit (Sutherland) but his son Bobby (Farrell) is cokehead who takes over the family business.

The three are all high school friends that all now are working for bosses they hate spending each night moaning about how they hate their days. This leads to the three to want to kill their bosses and they look for a hitman and find Dean ‘MF’ Jones (Foxx). The friends must find out a way to make their bosses have accidents to get rid of them.

Horrible Bosses is a comedy circling around the idea of having to work for difficult bosses and how you can go to the extremes and want to kill them. This shows how difficult it can be to work with difficult bosses but is mostly about how friends can bitch about how they hate them. The comedy does work in places even if certain parts are flipped reverse on sexual harassment.

Bateman, Sudeikis and Day do have good chemistry throughout while Spacey, Aniston and Farrell get to have great fun with their horrible boss characters each getting to play against the normal characters we are used to. This does turn into a good comedy that people will enjoy as they can relate to the struggle with difficult bosses.

 

Overall: Fun comedy that hits all the levels it needs too with the subject matter.

Ratingcard