But, so often a film isn’t just a movie. It’s trying to say something, or prove something, or make some damned point about some damned thing and we have to judge the film on whether it was achieved or not.
And then, once in a while, a Jumanji, or a Bad Moms, or even a Lady Bird comes along.
Films that really want nothing more than to tell us a yarn, make us laugh or cry when we should, and send us out to the night happy to have shelled out for the parking and the popcorn because they delivered what they promised with a bit of style and their hearts in exactly the right place.
Meet Game Night.
Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams are married couple Max and Annie.
Max’s brother Brooks, whose charm and success Max finds literally emasculating, is in town.
Brooks decides to kick the couple’s regular game night up a notch, with a faked kidnapping scenario staged by actors.
But, Brooks has some really bad guys after him...and that’s all I need to tell you about that.
Bateman and McAdams are a dream team for this material, with Kyle Chandler likewise perfect as the charismatic Brooks.
Around these three a solid support cast all do fine things with their moments in the spotlight. Current go-to guy Jesse Plemons (Black Mirror) continues his you’ve-seen-him-before-but-can’t-remember-where career arc as the sublimely discomforting cop next door.
A final quarter cameo for Michael C Hall (Dexter) lifts the film just as it begins to feel like it might be running out of steam.
Game Night probably owes a fair bit of its conception and inspiration to the 2010 Steve Carell/Tina Fey-starring Date Night, but that’s no bad thing.
Date Night is a terrific film and Game Night is mostly worth the comparison.
Some unexpectedly excellent sound and camera work lifts the film considerably.
A one-shot (faked, but well) multi-person chase around a mansion with a Faberge egg being tossed around like a football is a bravura bit of work.
If you’re after a good Friday night out, when you really just want to be entertained without being insulted, Game Night ticks every box. It’s a dense, clever, good natured and occasionally truly funny film. Bravo.