Tag Archives: Jason Bateman

Game Night (2018) Movie Review By John Walsh

Game Night.png

Directors: John Francis Daley, Jonathan Goldstein
Writer: Mark Perez
Stars: Jason Bateman, Rachel McAdams, Kyle Chandler

I’ve got level with you, I didn’t know this film even existed before it popped up in theatres and once I did become aware of its existence, the premise and title had me doubting its quality. I’m all for fun and having a laugh, but a game night wouldn’t be top of my list of potential film adaptations. It had a decent enough cast to entice me though with the insanely busy Jesse Plemons popping up again and it actually ended up surprising me in a good way.

The film follows the antics of Max (Jason Bateman) and Annie (Rachel Adams), they’re both competitive gamers and marry early on. There’s a time jump and then they’re seen having counselling. Max appears to have an inferiority complex with his brother Brooke (Kyle Chandler) being the primary cause. This issue is further compelled when the latter turns up at a cloak and daggers game night in Max’s dream car and then proceeds to embarrass him. He arranges a game night of his own, at his flash pad and this brings out the competitive streak in Annie, with the dysfunctional couple plotting the downfall of their estranged, obnoxious family member.

Now I mention a cloak and daggers game night and the reason behind that is their lonely, creepy, carrot headed neighbour Gary (Jesse Plemons). He’s not taking his divorce from ex-wife Debbie well and yearns for Max and Annie’s company and acceptance. There’s a painfully awkward conversation between the three early doors and their interactions don’t get any easier to watch as the film progresses.

The first twenty minutes to half hour had me concerned. It plodded along introducing the different people involved which is standard fair in most films, but there was a moment when I genuinely thought it was going to be about painful attempts at charades and arguing over monopoly until the bitter end. Thankfully though, things went up a few notches upon the guests arriving at Brooke’s house. He has a different idea for his brand of game night. He opts for a murder mystery affair with the winner picking up the keys to his Corvette. Brooke has been a naughty boy though, mixing in the wrong circles and when a pair of armed men storm his house and kidnap him, his guests think its all part of the game.

And that’s pretty much the plot for Game Night. Well, admittedly it’s a little bit more complicated than that but that’s the general gist of things. Max and Annie rush off trying to find Brooke, tracking his mobile and believing it’s all a game. There’s others involved too, who I won’t name because they don’t really have a massive impact on the proceedings, but the story is surprisingly enjoyable. Things go absolutely crazy after this and the film turns into a full blown action flick at times. They all eventually discover the game is very much real in their own time and that they’re dealing with ‘The Bulgarian’ (Michael C. Hall), a ruthless gangster.

There’s dramatic car chases, shootouts, an illuminati fight club scene, moments with bloodstained cats in pristine white rooms and even a dramatic chase with a plane trying to escape on a runway. There’s a couple of decent twists in there too, including a fake one. It’s got some  decent humour, likeable characters and as I mentioned before a quick paced and enjoyable, little story.

I really enjoyed Jason Bateman and Rachel Adams in this. They were a mad, dysfunctional couple and the latter gave me strong Monica from Friends vibes with her competitiveness. The overwhelming majority of the film followed them and if they weren’t right or didn’t turn up then it wouldn’t have worked. But they did. Bateman brought plenty of laughs and the two had good chemistry. The standout by a mile however was Jesse Plemons. Jesus, this guy is the definition of versatile. He’s got such a good range and pops up in a myriad of films as distinctly different characters. He’s like a human chameleon. Gary is a freak show of a man. He’s clearly battling loneliness, but is so caricature like in his creepiness and social awkwardness that you don’t know whether to laugh or pity him.

Like I said at the beginning, I didn’t even know this film existed until we discussed it on our ‘Box Office Chat’ segment of the Movie Burner Podcast. It flew right under the radar for me. The title nearly made me give it a pass entirely, but I’m actually glad that I watched it. Game Night is one of the rare films that I had little expectation for heading in, but it actually left me pleasantly surprised. It had a nice blend of comedy and action, a decent story with a few twists in there and it was reasonably well acted to boot.

I’d recommend giving it a watch if you’re bored and have a couple of hours to burn.

Rating: 3.5/5

Office Christmas Party (2016) Movie Review by Darrin Gauthier


Directors: Josh Gordon, Will Speck
Writers: Justin Malen (screenplay), Laura Solon (screenplay)
Stars: Jason Bateman, Olivia Munn, T.J. Miller, Jennifer Aniston, Kate McKinnon, Courtney B. Vance

Plot:  When his uptight CEO sister threatens to shut down his branch, the branch manager throws an epic Christmas party in order to land a big client and save the day, but the party gets way out of hand
Running time: 1 hour 45 minutes
Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics 41%  Audience 41%

Why I watched it: From time to time I break up my routine by watching a comedy, now I’m very picky with comedies, I love to laugh and I think I have a good sense of humour but most comedies leave me cold, now this one I liked the cast so I gave it a try.

Random thoughts: Off the top of your head how many movies have Jason Bateman and Jennifer Aniston been in together, I count 4, that’s a lot.

What I liked: This is a likeable cast, I will say so many comedies have an abrasive cast or the tone is mean spirited at least Office Christmas Party was pleasant for the most part.  There’s a lot of funny people in this film, maybe too many cause there’s not enough screen time to go around but I have to give them credit almost everyone gets a moment.  Two actors stand out for me Kate McKinnon steals the movie, she’s different her vibe is a bit off but she has amazing timing and she can pull off some weird characters and her she’s a side character but she’s really the only one in the cast to take what is a one-dimensional character and flesh out more. She was a hoot.

Also Courtney B Vance, he’s not known for his comedy but he under plays for the first half then let’s it loose and he has some nice moments. The tone is good, like I said it’s not a mean comedy, there’s a conflict but it’s got a good message about treating your coworkers and employees like family, about caring for them and trying to make Christmas special, nothing wrong with that. Also think that the cast had an easy chemistry with each other and it did feel like these people worked together, Bateman and Munn being the glue to hold the office together and Miller being the well meaning but goofy boss.

What I didn’t like: The Christmas theme is lost here, honestly it could have been just an office party, sure Miller dresses up as Santa but this didn’t feel like a Christmas movie, it’s a comedy but not something anyone would watch every year at Christmas. I like Jason Bateman, I think he’s very under used just go watch The Gift to see his range but man he’s typecast playing the same guy in these comedies, he’s the nice but bland voice of reason and here he doesn’t even get to be funny and his relationship with Munn doesn’t really work cause they have no meaningful screen time together. This is the main problem of the story they throw too much in, too many side characters and sub-plots and they don’t have the time to really flesh everything out.

Aniston is playing the comedy villain cliche and I mean right down the line she’s so a cliche.  I would say they could have cut at least four characters and spread out the time to everyone else to make this a tighter and funnier film. The ending is a head shaker, really they have to rally to save the company and how they do it is just silly and not very believable.  Also one thing I’m realising with the comedies coming out now, we have this loose improve thing going, and you see it when they show the bloopers, just riffing on a scene and you realise that there’s not so much a script but an outline and I think that’s why these comedies come out uneven cause some stuff works and some seems out of place or just doesn’t fit the tone.

Final thoughts: Honestly I didn’t dislike the film, I didn’t love it and I thought it didn’t work completely but I did smile and I laughed a couple of times and there was effort here so it’s not a bad film just not great or even really good but it’s watchable and it did have it’s moments.

Rating: 5/10

Zootopia (2016) Movie Review by Darrin Gauthier 


Directors: Byron Howard, Rich Moore
Writers: Byron Howard (story by), Rich Moore (story by)
Stars: Ginnifer Goodwin, Jason Bateman, Idris Elba

Plot:  In a city of anthropomorphic animals, a rookie bunny cop and a cynical con artist fox must work together to uncover a conspiracy.

Running time: 1 hour 48 minutes

Rotten tomatoes score: Critics 98%    Audience 92%

Why I watched it: I’m a huge animation fan but I tend to pick my spots now but I sat down with my daughters(8-5 yrs) and they had seen it and they wanted me to watch it with them.

Thoughts: Now this is a Disney release, not Pixar, going in I knew this was a huge hit and also just look at the Rotten Tomatoes scores, I went hoping just for a fun film.

What I liked: First off the film looked great the animation is wonderful, it’s bright and it just jumps off the screen.  I liked how they set up this world, it’s all animals and they have different sections where they live.  This is world building at it’s best, it’s not like Marvel where they take four films to set up their world.

The voice work is great here, I like that Disney grabs a few “names” but also fills out the rest of the cast with really good voice actors not people you would call stars but actors who make their living using their voice and yes there’s a difference.  I thought Goodwin was well cast and Bateman showed his range, he used his own persona but also lent some depth to a one dimensional character.

The moral of the story is very timely, and I thought there were a couple of layers here, one was don’t judge a book by it’s cover and that all different people/animals can live together if you respect each other and you can be anything you want as long as you have passion and a desire.  I liked that for the most part this was a very positive and upbeat film and also not overly scary or sad for kids.

What I didn’t like: 1 hour and 46 minutes is overly long for an animation film, heck most of the movies I watch is under that and for kids it’s a tad long, even for me I though it could have been tighter.

I wished some of the supporting characters were used more, Idris Elba as the Police Captain and JK Simmons as a lion and the major were good but they didn’t have enough to do, I really thought Elba’s character had a lot of potential.

Other than that it’s just nitpicking.

Final thoughts: I really liked this, one of the better animation films I’ve seen in awhile, it made me laugh and smile, the direction was good and it was just a very good popcorn crowd pleasing movie.

Rating: 7/10

The Gift (2015) Movie Retro Review by Darrin Gauthier


Director: Joel Edgerton
Writer: Joel Edgerton
Stars: Jason Bateman, Rebecca Hall, Joel Edgerton

Plot:  A young married couple’s lives are thrown into a harrowing tailspin when an acquaintance from the husband’s past brings mysterious gifts and a horrifying secret to light after more than 20 years.

Running Time: 1 hour 48 minutes
Rotten Tomatoes Scores: Critics 92%    Audience 75%
Why I watched it: The reviews were great, had a strong buzz and the trailer held some promise, plus I’m a big fan of Rebecca Hall.

Random Thoughts: I’m not the biggest Joel Edgerton fan, he can be bland at times and I must say this film is billed on a big reveal, what’s the dark secret and those kinds of films can often times be disappointing.  I was also very curious to see Jason Bateman is a serious role.

What I liked: The Gift is not a CGI feast, it’s a small film, it’s also an adult film this is a thriller not about teenagers but about adults and also about the choices we make.  It’s easy to call this film a slow burn because to be honest the film takes it’s time revealing things the other thing about the film is that it’s not huge on action or jump scares the film is character driven.  We have more characters but really the film is about the three leads and each one gets fleshed out.  Far too many times a script will short change character for action The Gift is almost all about the characters, who they are and what other people think they are.  The acting all the way around is solid, Jason Bateman is very good here and he uses his persona to get us to like him then he spins it on it’s head.  The Bateman character is that type of person who hides who he is, he wears a mask and if anyone tries to peak underneath he gets very upset.

Joel Edgerton as a director and actor walks a tightrope, the character he’s playing seems off, but the film hinges on him and he can’t show his hand, is he a bad guy, a stalker, a sad sack who’s been beaten down by life, is he just a lonely nerd looking for friends so he isn’t alone.  The big thing here is we aren’t really given the whole picture of who and why he is, we hear things but never the whole thing.  The movie asks some tough questions, who are we really, is the past ever really in the past, do people really just get over things.  The Gift isn’t a true thriller, it’s more of a mystery drama, Rebecca Hall’s character at first seems like she’s just playing the wife role but she’s the straw that stirs the drink, it’s her trying to find the truth and that lends her into asking maybe the biggest question in the film, do we ever truly know anyone or do they show us what they want us to see.

What I didn’t like: The film has nice mood but it could have been tighter, it’s not over long but the tension sometimes is a bit lax.  I wish they could have shown more of the Edgerton character, I get he has to be a mystery to keep the film going but in the end we don’t learn that much about him, we know happened to him but we really never learned what he’s like now, he’s the least fleshed out. The ending is a little vague and depending how you take it, well let’s just say it could be a little creepy.  I kind of wanted a stronger ending.

Final Thoughts: I liked it, it was a thoughtful film and really takes a look at people, the thing I took away from it was do people were take responsibility for what they do or do they blames others and interestingly enough it applies to all three characters.
Rating: 7/10