Plenty of comedies revolve around characters thinking a real situation is fake -- and seeing how long the movie can draw that out.  This takes up the early portion of Game Night, a movie where friends' gathering to play assorted games spirals out of control.

Max (Jason Bateman) and Annie (Rachel McAdams) are a happily married couple who seem obsessed with playing games, either with or against each other, and with their friends: married couple Kevin (Lamorne Morris) and Michelle (Kylie Bunbury); Ryan (Billy Magnussen), who always seems to bring brainless bimbos to game night; and Sarah (Sharon Horgan), an Irish coworker of Ryan who he brought as a ringer.  Max also has issues with his older brother Brooks (Kyle Chandler), who seems more successful and better liked that Max.  Max and Annie also want to avoid letting their creepy next-door-neighbor police officer Gary (Jesse Plemons) worm his way into their game night.
Brooks takes control of game night, and he has everyone over to his house for a murder-mystery type game: Someone will be kidnapped, and whoever finds the kidnapped person first gets a cool car.  Soon enough, masked men seem to beat up and kidnap Brooks -- and the game is on!  Max and Annie trace Brooks' cell phone to find him.  Ryan and Sarah go to the company Brooks employed to find out the last clue.  And Kevin and Michelle are locked in a room by Max and Annie and have to escape -- while bickering over what celebrity Michelle slept with.
Max and Annie find Brooks, and they think the game is over and they won the car.  But it turns out that Brooks is a smuggler, and his kidnapping was real.  Brooks promised to deliver a Faberge egg to a criminal known as the Bulgarian, and soon the friends are all working together to get and deliver the egg, save Brooks, and keep the police from getting involved.

Game Night is a decent comedy that's slightly uneven.  Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams are very good as the couple who go quite a while thinking all the craziness is just part of a game, and Jesse Plemons is nicely weird as the just-off neighbor, and the rest of the cast is decent.  Some of the humor works fine (amateurs removing a bullet, getting blood off of a white dog) and some falls flat (the shift to borderline action movie).  Game Night is okay, though better than most movies based on actual games (and probably the ones coming soon).

Overall grade: B-
Reviewed by James Lynch

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