COMEDY; 1hr 40min
STARRING: Rachel McAdams, Jason Bateman, Jesse Plemons
Slippery slope: Bateman and McAdams
If there is such an oxymoron as a playfully competitive personality, husband-and-wife Max and Annie (Bateman and McAdams) are it in spades. Their weekly game night with a group of similarly combative friends (Billy Magnussen, Kylie Bunbury and Lamorne Morris included) is a personal and tactical highlight for them both, although Max’s win-lose issues don’t end there. His annoyingly more successful and frankly better-looking brother, Brooks (Kyle Chandler), has overshadowed Max’s life to the point where even his sperm is adversely affected. (Seriously! Who knew?)
How typical of Brooks to usurp Max’s comparatively lame game night by staging an evening of hyper-real kidnapping theatrics, courtesy of hired actors, in which Brooks himself is the pretend victim! Or is it pretend?
Of course it’s not—and that’s just one bombshell in a farcical set-up that refuses to call it quits. Snappily directed for short attention spans by John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein, Mark Perez’s nutso screenplay is a laugh-out-loud fun offensive of escalating craziness, packed with high-stakes exploits, slaying one-liners and pithy pop-culture allusions. The ensemble cast is up for every strange development, playing dead straight through an avalanche of whammies. Every one of them is terrific but Plemons leads the field as a deadpan policeman-next-door who wants in on Max and Annie’s game-night action. The more out-there everything gets, the freakier he, too, becomes.