Tag: Jason Bateman

Game Night

gamenightNow here’s a film that goes down like a churro dunked in chocolate sauce. And like that alluring sugar-coated doughy Spanish treat, Game Night is a film with zero nutritional benefits but sooo easy to consume. No subtexts, no heavy messages, it keeps its mood light and its subject matter dark—it’s a cheerful black comedy, if you will.

The film centres around a married couple, Max and Annie, whose weekly game nights provide a release for their unbridled competitiveness. Their failure to conceive a much wanted child provides the nexus around which the film explores their relationship. Max’s sperm mobility is lacking, which only adds to the inferiority complex he has in relation to his brother, Brooks. Played by Kyle Chandler (Argo, Manchester by the Sea), Brooks is a highly successful entrepreneur, a winning risk-taker, and is everything Max isn’t. When Brooks invites Max’s friends over, offering “a game night to remember”, the film shifts gear and begins to take great delight in blurring the lines between what is “the game” and what is real.

Max is played by the affable Jason Bateman (Office Christmas Party). I’ve always considered Bateman to be a male Jennifer Anniston, average, likeable, and very much the “everyman”. Bateman’s typecast roles often deliver a feel-good comedy schtick that, for all its “sameness”, is surprisingly funny. Rachel McAdams (The Notebook, Spotlight), who often seems to fly under the radar, gives a pitch-perfect performance as Annie, offering comedic moments that highlight what an underrated talent McAdams is.

But the surprise performance is Jesse Plemons (Black Mass) as Gary, the creepy serial killer-esque neighbour, who wants in on game night. His socially awkward pauses and off centre comments are a delight to watch and provide the film’s high watermark.

Game Night brings some genuinely laugh-out-loud moments and thankfully stops just shy of being outrageously silly (although it gets fairly close at times). It doesn’t elevate itself to the comedy classics … it would need to be less churro and more creme brûlée for that, but it still packs enough comedic entertainment to get you well aboard the chuckle train.

  
You can see my published reviews here.

Office Christmas Party

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Every so often a gross-out comedy comes along that has a certain genius bubbling beneath its absurd, crass, and shocking exterior. Office Christmas Party is not one of these. Well, that’s not entirely true – it is absurd and crass, but unfortunately not even a hint of genius is to be found.

Directors Josh Gordon and Will Speck, who mildly tickled my funny bone with Blades of Glory, have nose-dived with this woeful mess. The story centres around the employees of a struggling tech company. When CEO Carol Vanstone (Jennifer Aniston) demands the closure of one of its branches, the branch manager (who also happens to also be Carol’s brother, played by T.J. Miller) sets about changing her mind by winning a big contract. In order to do this he and his chief technical officer (Jason Bateman) set about hosting an epic office Christmas party in an effort to impress the potential client and close a sale that will save their jobs.

It’s not long before you realise that Office Christmas Party deals solely in the currency of the crass, the vulgar, and the slapstick. It peddles a base sense of humour with farts, men photocopying their arses and 3D printing their penises – yes, dildos, hookers, drugs and bad hip-hop.

This assault to the senses is festooned with one liner gags delivered like a bad skit-show stitched together with crepe paper that’s been soaking all night in tequila. It’s neither clever nor funny and unravels into a boring and annoying mess rather quickly.

I know, it’s the prerogative of the gross-out comedy to play in the muck and to be fair, all may have been forgiven had the film actually delivered some laughs. Try as it might, it barely raised a chuckle, leaving the film with very few redeeming qualities. So, my Christmas gift to you, dear reader, is a piece of advice: Don’t bother with Office Christmas Party.

Star rating: 1 out of 5

See the published review here.

Tight lipped on Office Christmas Party

So, I had to sign an embargo at the media screening of Office Christmas Party.  I think I know why.

Review this weekend.