Game Night (2018): Live Or Die, the Comedic Choice Is Yours

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“Game Night” is directed by John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein, who together have collaborated on directing “Vacation” and stars Jason Bateman (Horrible Bosses, Juno) alongside Rachel McAdams (Mean Girls, The Notebook) as a couple who often do a game night at their house with people they’re close with. However, Jason Bateman’s character of Max happens to have a brother who is in town by the name of Brooks, who is essentially maximized in every way compared to Max. Brooks is planning a game night of his own and everybody ends up attending, this eventually leads to everyone’s realization that this is not just your standard gaming session where people play Scrabble or Life or Pictionary, and it is instead, a murder mystery, thus leading to the movie’s crazy, action-packed events.

I wanted to see “Game Night” when it first came out in theaters, however I never got around to it during its theatrical run. I felt that other movies were more important, I was busy focusing on and recapping the Academy Awards at the time and it just happened to be something I never came across. But the trailer made this movie look great. Did it feel like something a studio would assemble together? Maybe, a little bit, but it felt like it was done with character and passion. Plus, I heard sometime while I was missing this movie that the duo directing this film are actually signed on to direct a “Flash” film for DC. That doesn’t really say much, but given that statistic, it did get me intrigued. I wanted to see how they’d do with this film, thus giving me a sense of what they could do with a film like “The Flash.” And I’d say they did a very good job.

When it comes to “Game Night,” this movie just surprised the hell out of me. I didn’t think “Game Night” was going to be bad, but I didn’t expect to laugh my ass off as much as I did while watching it. One of the first exchanges of dialogue of the movie takes place during this trivia night, and it literally set the tone for me, just a few minutes in, I’m already loving what I’m seeing. And this made me ask myself, could this top “Blockers?”

Some of you may be wondering why I’m asking that. “Game Night” was released on February 23rd, 2018 in the United States, and I’ve witnessed several comedies this year, or movies containing comedy in them, not just “Blockers,” and they’ve caught me by surprise, because in 2017, comedy was literally, no pun intended, a joke to me. With movies like “How to Be a Latin Lover,” “Fist Fight,” “Snatched,” and the gosh-awful “Father Figures,” 2017 overall just fell flat. Heck, I was even underwhelmed by “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2!” Granted they had an enormous fluke with “The Disaster Artist” towards the end of the year, but still. I’m not saying all of 2018’s comedies have been great, go watch “Uncle Drew,” “Gringo,” or “Life of the Party” and tell me how you feel afterwards. But when you consider how much “Blockers” surprised me and made me see layers that I didn’t think I’d witness, how heartwarming yet hilarious “Tag” happened to be, and how many stitches I needed after “Avengers: Infinity War,” which isn’t even a comedy, but it managed to make me laugh more than I would at many comedies coming out nowadays, all of this just seems amazing. Comedy has turned around significantly for me this year, and everybody seems to be stepping up their game. In fact, kind of like “Blockers,” I kind of had an urge to watch “Game Night” again after viewing it for the first time.

Before we dive into some main points people usually need to go over for comedies, I’d just like to point out that there are points where I noticed the cinematography for “Game Night” is probably better than it had to be. There’s this sequence involving a fancy-looking egg and as everyone seems to be tossing it around, it’s all done with the camera moving around in one shot for an extended period of time as the characters are just doing what they’re supposed to do. It was just magic.

As far as the type of comedy that you get in “Game Night,” it’s basically mile-a-minute humor. Most of the humor seems to out of the characters’ mouths as opposed to actions, however some of the actions in this movie, while sometimes disturbing, but not in a way that turned me off, were certainly funny as well. Is anything new really brought to the table here? Nothing I can list off the top off my head, but whatever is there, works. This movie was done by some of the people who have worked on “Horrible Bosses,” and I’ll say having watched both “Game Night” and “Horrible Bosses,” if you like the tone and humor delivered in “Horrible Bosses,” I’d say you’d end up liking “Game Night.” In fact if you ask me personally, I like “Game Night” better than “Horrible Bosses.” Maybe it’s because I was rather late to the party when it came to “Horrible Bosses” and my mother was hyping it up like a bride does with her own wedding. My expectations, while not small, were perhaps lower for “Game Night” than they were for “Horrible Bosses.” And as of right now, I think a lot of you don’t have to see either one of these movies and automatically consider “Game Night” better than the other. Why?

This guy. If you hate this guy, “Horrible Bosses” might not be for you.

Some of the more recent movies I reviewed like “Uncle Drew” and “The Hurricane Heist” have something in common. Let me give you a small hint.

“UNCLE DREW” REVIEW
“Let’s talk about some of the characters in “Uncle Drew.” They all suck. They don’t drink enough Pepsi in the movie!”

“THE HURRICANE HEIST” REVIEW
“When it comes to Toby Kebbell, he plays a guy named Will, and what I have to say about his character is what can pretty much be said for everyone else’s characters. All of them suck, they have no personalities, not even their quirky southern accents could have saved this movie.”

Fortunately, I don’t have to say such a thing about this movie, because every single character was awesome! The strong point of “Game Night” is in the chemistry between everyone on screen, almost everyone is in a pair, whether they’re a couple or just partners, their separate interactions come together to make something super. A story between Max (Jason Bateman) and Annie (Rachel McAdams) is that a reason why they can’t have kids is because of a sibling rivalry between Max and his brother, Brooks. When it comes to another couple, Kevin (Lamorne Morris) and Michelle (Kylie Bunbury), they get into an argument about the past, specifically how Michelle slept with a celebrity. And there’s Sarah (Sharon Horgan) and Ryan (Billy Magnussen), which is basically a combination of the brains and… someone who literally needs the brains.

One thing I seem to notice about a couple good comedies is how much a dog would stand out in the movie, and in some scenarios, maybe not in the most pleasant of ways. This has been proven with “Anchorman” with Ron Burgundy’s dog, Baxter. It has also been supported in “There’s Something About Mary” with Puffy. Here, there’s a dog that’s often held by a character who I liked more and more as the movie went on, specifically Gary played by Jesse Plemons. There’s this scene where the dog is all covered in blood, I won’t go into much detail, but it’s in the trailer. Also, speaking of Jesse Plemons’s character, this is definitely one of the better performances the movie has to offer. It may not seem like much at first, but the difficulty seemingly increases as Plemons delivers a particular line in a certain way, it’s just priceless seeing his character do what he does.

I really don’t have much else to say about “Game Night,” but part of me wonders why they would name Max’s brother, Brooks (Kylie Chandler), the way they did. Is it to make him have a superior sounding name and not just be a superior fellow by himself? And you might be thinking, “Hey, Jackass! How the heck is Brooks a superior sounding name?” Ever heard of Brooks Brothers? If you have a luxurious fellow in your movie, you might as well give him a name that associates with luxury. I don’t know if this is true, but I’m curious to know the meaning behind his name if there does happen to be one.

In the end, “Game Night” just shows that 2018 is probably one of my favorite years in regards to comedy ever. If I remember correctly, I think probably laughed here as much as I did during “Tag,” which is kind of funny considering New Line Cinema and Warner Brothers worked on both movies. The chemistry between all of the characters was fantastic, I basically died laughing, and there’s even a couple lines that I want to quote forever.

“I hate game night!” -Annie

Not me sister, I motherf*cking loved “Game Night.” I’m gonna give “Game Night” an 8/10. Thanks for reading this review! I’m not sure what movie I’m gonna review next, however Steven Soderbergh’s most recently released film which he directed, “Unsane,” is now free on Amazon Prime, so maybe I’ll review that if there’s nothing else to do. Be sure to follow Scene Before so you can stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you see “Game Night?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite comedy of 2018 so far? To me, it’s a tough choice, probably either this or “Blockers,” nevertheless, let me know your opinions on what this year’s best comedy is for you! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Ready Player One (2018): Pop Culture’s Ultimate Birthchild

*SPONSORSHIP ALERT* (although nobody’s payin’ me)

Before we dive into my review for one of my most anticipated movies of 2018, let me just have you know that this review is being called “Pop Culture’s Ultimate Birthchild.” If you watch “Ready Player One” and/or read the book, you’d know precisely what I’m talking about. And speaking of birthchildren, there’s one couple out there in California who are currently expecting a birthchild. The couple contains souls by the names of Genevieve and Paul, and they are going to giving birth to a child sometime in the future. You can find out the true story of this babymaking journey in “What the IVF?!”

“What the IVF?” documents the seemingly endless but also effort-filled journey of having a child. What’s so hard about it? Watching over them? Finding a babysitter? Trying to get them to fall asleep? No, you fools! The hard part is making them! Watch as Genevieve and Paul do something that will change humanity. By, you know, trying to increase its overall population by 1. But the process of doing that isn’t easy! The couple suffer through troublesome situations in regards to sex, math, testing, costs, and because they TOTALLY asked for them, infinite needles! If you want to watch the fifth episode to this series, it’s listed up above. This time, Genevieve and Paul’s marriage might be going down the toilet! Not to mention, nothing seems all that pleasant at this point. Watch the episode, comment, subscribe, hit the notification bell, share with your friends, enemies, frenemies, whoever they may be. Also check out the “WTIVF” website, and their other forms of presence on social media, all of which is listed down below! Oh yeah, and tell them Jack Drees sent ya! I’m sure they’ll appreciate it!

WTIVF? WEBSITE: http://www.whattheivf.com/

WTIVF? YOUTUBE: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCILXSidkzWgwrQ5Oa1py78w/featured?disable_polymer=1

WTIVF? TWITTER: https://twitter.com/WTivF

WTIVF? INSTAGRAM: https://www.instagram.com/wtivf/

WTIVF? FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/What-The-IVF-288868031634125/

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“Ready Player One” is directed by Steven Spielberg (Jurassic Park, Lincoln) and stars Tye Sheridan (X-Men Apocalypse, Mud), Olivia Cooke (Ouija, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl), Ben Mendelsohn (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, The Dark Knight Rises) and is based on the pop culture extravaganza of a book written by Ernest Cline, who by the way, is one of the film’s screenwriters alongside Zak Penn (The Avengers, The Incredible Hulk).

Much like the book, this movie centers around the character of Wade Owen Watts, a teenage boy who is currently living in the 2040s. Oh yeah, and just like every other movie that takes place in the future that seems to have something depressing, Earth is dying, who’d a thunk it? Nowadays he basically spends his time on the virtual reality headset universe known as the OASIS (Ontologically Anthropocentric Sensory Immersive Simulation), where you can literally live your reality meeting other avatars who go by nicknames. For example, Wade’s avatar name in the game is known as Parzival. Another example would be for a different character in the movie, Samantha, which is the name she goes by in real life, but in the OASIS, she’s known as Art3mis. There’s not just that, you can do just about anything you can think of! You want to drive a DeLorean? You’ve got yourself a DeLorean! You want an Iron Giant to hang out with? Of course you do, and you’ve got one! You want to ride the bike from “Akira?” Bingo! This is basically a future, where there’s nowhere left to go. And I’ve seen a lot of media will give this dystopian landscape where everything looks all depressing, but one thing I’ve never noticed is a hint of pop culture in there. And I feel this movie, the more I think about it, is kind of relevant. Not just for the environmental message that you’d find in films like “Wall-E” or “Interstellar,” but the fact that maybe we’re running out of ideas in terms of what could be the next big franchise or the next big movie or the next big TV show. The movie doesn’t really dive into that, but this is an unoriginal movie which centers around unoriginality and it’s all the better for it!

This was one of my most anticipated movies of the year. Most of the promotional material had me nerdgasming! The visuals looked astounding! The music, like, oh my gosh! The teaser trailer for “Ready Player One” which was revealed at San Diego Comic-Con, went on to become one of my favorite trailers of 2017, and the movie had a couple more trailers that went on to become instant favorites of mine for this current year. I went to see the movie in 70mm film! A lot of people see “Avengers: Infinity War” as their most anticipated movie of the year, and I totally get why, but when it comes to both movies, I can’t help but hype both up like the Soup Nazi when his place was in business on “Seinfeld.” I even did something that I never do before going to see a movie. I actually read the book. Let me just pull up a quote that I left in my review for “The Firm.”

“…movies are more fun! Sorry, books!”

Part of my reading of the book has to do with a challenge I gave to some friends, but still.

After reading the book and seeing the promotional material of the movie, I felt like this was a fictionalized “King of the Nerds.” If you have seen “King of the Nerds,” you’d probably know it as a part competition and part nerd culture extravaganza. This show is actually quite possibly my favorite of all time, making me even gladder to have read the book to capture the feeling of the show inside me once more after it was canceled by TBS in 2015. And speaking of “King of the Nerds,” “Revenge of the Nerds,” the movie which the show is sort of based on, is referenced in the book. In fact, there’s one part where the main character of Wade Watts goes searching for something important to the plot, and he tries going into a recreation of the house that the nerds rent and fix in the movie! If you know me in real life, if something receives a comparison to “King of the Nerds,” you know that I am jumping up and down.

Unfortunately, there’s no “Revenge of the Nerds” references in the movie. However, when you take the rest of the movie for what it is, you might as well refer to it by one word: Amazing. Am I fanboying? Sort of. I’m only fanboying because this film met, and in ways, exceeded my expectations. I am not one of those people who says this:

“This is a great book! Terrific! Unbelievable! If you change an ounce of this book, I will find you studio freaks at your filthy houses and slaughter every last one of you!”

Yes, there are changes from the book, and personally, I can understand the changes, and based on what we’ve gotten out of this movie, I don’t care! This movie itself, was probably one of the most thrilling experiences I’ve had in a theater. If the 70mm show wasn’t enough to please, some of the scenes which have now become new personal faves of mine certainly were!

Steven Spielberg directed this film, and when I first heard about him taking on this project, I was like, “cool.” As I read the book though, I thought to myself, there is NO OTHER MAN ON THIS EARTH that should direct this movie! Well, it was mainly because Spielberg was referenced in the book and it was done in a form of appreciation. Now that I’ve seen the film from start to finish, I can’t say anything else except, THERE’S STILL NO F*CKING WAY ANOTHER PERSON COULD HAVE DIRECTED THIS FILM! Steven Spielberg’s hayday was blockbusters galore, not to mention he’s a master of putting you into the action. Just watch “Saving Private Ryan” or “Jurassic Park!” The film’s opening contains this big and important race, and I guarantee you that at some point, you’ll feel like you’re in it.

Speaking of action, “Ready Player One” also contains one of the best mega-battles I’ve seen in a movie, and one of the best chases I’ve seen in a movie. There’s this big climactic battle that decides the future of both sides, and as I watched, I felt like I was back the early 2000s, going to the theater, and watching “Lord of the Rings.” I ate it up and I wanted more! Now I know that I talked about the race during the film’s starting point, and it’s sort of chase-like, but we cut to the real chase towards the end of the film. Literally. This final chase, may be one of the very best I’ve ever seen in a movie. The climactic chase of the movie almost feels like a mix of “Inception” and “The Lego Movie.” In other words, it was a mix of a heartfelt moment and the dropping of my jaw. I don’t even want to go into it, because I want you as a viewer to be surprised.

Now I mention that this movie, like the book, is really freaking good! But if there’s one thing that the book does better, it’s character development. I’m not saying that the characters in this movie sucked, in fact I really liked all of them. But in comparison to the book, the book did it better.

Let’s talk about the main character of Wade Watts, otherwise known as Parzival. In some ways, much like the book, I resemble this character. We both want to do something that will prevent our governments from harming us personally, we’re both uber nerds, and we both know a lot about a variety of popular culture. Although then again, that’s what pretty much a majority of the movie’s characters know about. In the book, Watts was actually fat in real life. I can kind of understand why they would cast a guy like Tye Sheridan for the role of Watts even though he’s not fat, but they could have paid homage to the book and done that. If they did cast someone fat, it would have increased the chance of seeing a key character moment from the book. I’m not saying I’m unsatisfied with what we got, but still, the book did it better.

Although one thing that may rival the book entirely in my opinion was the depiction of Samantha, or Art3mis. When I read the book, I always thought of the interactions in the OASIS between Parzival and Art3mis as cutesy, and as something that just developed over time. The movie feels faster, and it almost makes Samantha’s avatar look like someone a boy would usually be attracted to. Well, to me anyway, looks are subjective. Sure, in the book I can kind of buy Parzival’s infatuation towards Art3mis, but it didn’t have a raw feeling, like this movie did, and I personally thought it worked. Cooke as an actress pretty much nailed what this character needed, and I admired her performance.

Now let’s get into one of my favorite parts of the movie, and that is the character of Nolan Sorrento played by Ben Mendelsohn. Having seen him play Krennic in “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” it should be proof at this point that Mendelsohn can play one awesome villain! Here, he does that too! He’s basically this corporate baddie that oversees all the operations of IOI (Innovative Online Industries) and he wants to change the OASIS to make it more like what can be translated as something like Net Neutrality or EA shoving micro-transactions down your throat. As if his representation of evil was good enough, his character has one of the major highlights of the movie for me. There’s a point where he’s talking with Wade and he’s trying to act consumer-friendly, attractive, and telling Wade what he would probably want to hear, and someone is on the other end, speaking into his ear without Wade’s knowledge. Trust me, it’s kind of funny.

Now let’s state another highlight performance of the movie, and that is the character of James Halliday, played by Mark Rylance. This is Rylance’s third performance with Steven Speilberg, and he was cast perfectly in regards to this character. Halliday was charming, somewhat funny, and a mix between Willy Wonka and Steve Jobs. You’ve got the one side that seems to scream charisma and wonder and you have another that represents brains and sometimes over-stressed. I will say though, I was doing research on this movie, and while I think Rylance’s performance is terrific, there is someone I would have loved to see bring their skills to the table.

Rylance’s character is once again, comparable to Willy Wonka, and thus it kind of makes sense where Steven Spielberg’s mind would be going at one point. One idea he had for the character of Halliday before Rylance ultimately took over is to get Gene Wilder back on screen. According to the movie’s trivia page on IMDb, “Wilder respectfully declined.” Mark Rylance was cast in 2016 some time before Gene Wilder’s death. But what if Wilder were in the movie? I imagine the movie would make a hell lot more money than it already did, it would have a stronger opening weekend, and based on recent events, it might actually bring something emotional to the movie. Although then again, I wonder if they still would have been filming the scenes for Halliday at the time of Wilder’s death, so it probably wouldn’t have even mattered. Nevertheless, Wilder as Halliday would have been PERFECT, A+, 10/10 casting. However, Rylance, based on his portrayal, is just as solid.

Moving onto one thing that I heard a number of people complain about, let’s talk about references. People were nervous about this movie because they figured the only thing that it stands for is to make references down your throat. Personally, I did not have that complaint going in. I thought the movie was gonna have a fine number of references that didn’t feel bloated. Besides, references are awesome! As far as this movie goes none of the references forced (for what I remember), they were charming, and they were even sometimes hysterical! One of the biggest standouts is a moment where the main characters are going into the world of a classic movie. No, seriously, they go in, and several events from that movie play out in this one! I didn’t have too too many people in my theater, so I can’t say much noise was made, but I heard there were some presentations that people attended where audience members collectively gasped. The most references come in during the commencement of the movie and the climax, and while the middle definitely has some, it seems to come off as more story-oriented. And that’s not to say that the beginning and end aren’t story oriented. I’d say the references used at the start and finish were properly utilized while still maintaining an interesting story, thus making the movie better. You know, unlike “The Emoji Movie,” which story-wise and reference wise, is nothing but trash buried beneath the ground after being lit on fire. That movie was nothing but a complete waste of the talent from minds like Patrick Stewart, Anna Faris, and TJ Miller.

Fortunately, TJ Miller’s talent is not wasted here! If you don’t already know, TJ Miller plays the character of I-R0k, and let’s just get serious for a moment. TJ Miller’s voice, IS ASTOUNDING. If Morgan Freeman is the king of narrating serious pieces of work, then TJ Miller is the king of narrating anything that sounds hilarious. Just watch “Silicon Valley,” “Deadpool,” heck, I’ll say “Transformers: Age of Extinction.” HELL! I’d say even watch “The Emoji Movie!” Even though the movie sucks, you still get to hear the killer voice of TJ f*cking Miller. TJ Miller was TOP-NOTCH CASTING for I-R0k, and after seeing Miller play him, I probably can’t imagine anyone else taking on the role! If the remake and reboot craze continues and “Ready Player One” is the next in line, I quadruple dog dare those behind the project to find a better I-R0k.

In the end, “Ready Player One,” was a f*cking blast! I had very high expectations for the movie, and I certainly was not let down. This is also personally, almost a #1 favorite of mine for Steven Spielberg. I saw this movie on a Tuesday night, and this review was finished on a Friday. On this day, I’m still thinking to myself, “I want to see this again.” Have I seen it again? No I have not, but I’d literally cut through traffic and smash cars to pieces just to go to the theater for a second time and catch the experience once more. So with that being said, “Ready Player One” is yet another win for Spielberg and I’m going to give it a 10/10!

Thanks for reading this review! Fun fact about my experience watching this in the theater, I mentioned I went to see this in 70mm, and it actually was in this quaint theater near Boston, and they played a trailer for “2001: A Space Odyssey” since the theater was bringing it back in the 70mm format for its 50th anniversary. Just… One of the best things I’ve witnessed in my entire life. I might do something soon for “2001” if possible, maybe a movie review, maybe dissect it, or something else along those lines. As far as other content goes, I have a few ideas lined up. Maybe I’ll go see “Blockers,” “A Quiet Place,” “Pacific Rim: Uprising,” or maybe I’ll wind up seeing “Ready Player One” again. Who knows? Stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you see “Ready Player One?” What did you think about it? Did you read the book? What did you think about that? I personally love it, and comparing both the movie and the book side by side, they both make themselves great in their own ways. Also, if you were going to make a book or movie full of references, what would the references be and how would the movie play out? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!