Game Night Movie Review
📝 Note: This post is still in Draft form. This working copy may change.
This is fun. I love movies. I love watching movies and going to movies. It's one of those things I enjoy a ton. I have been trying to watch movies with a sharper eye for what these movies say about some things I'm seeing as universal truths. Good movies poke at these truths and say something about them, and this is why we find these movies good. Yes, there are some that don't seem to go anywhere, but a majority do…otherwise you find they don't get made. This is actually difficult for me, because if the movie is good, I'm fully immersed in the story and don't tend to pull on these types of threads. Return viewing is helping this, so if I make this a regular thing…the movies will most like be older.
Game Night is a 2018 movie that blind-sided me with how much I enjoyed it and yet fell under the radar for many people. I knew my wife would like it so after we both watched it we laughed at how much fun we had. This is also one of a handful of a few movies that we've returned to multiple times. The basic premise is: “A group of friends who meet regularly for game nights find themselves entangled in a real-life mystery when the shady brother of one of them is seemingly kidnapped by dangerous gangsters.” [via IMDB]
Here's what I think are the universal truths highlighted in Game Night:
- We all long for life grander than ourselves, i.e. a sense of adventure.
- Comparing ourselves with others leads to problems.
- The choices we make always impact those around us, most commonly those we love.
So without an adventure, most moves will probably be pretty bad. But this movie directly highlights this sense of greater things on a number of levels. John Eldredge calls this the desire for an “Adventure to Live”. The fact that the two lead characters went from Bar Trivia to hosting “Game Nights” is an act of trying to bring adventure into their daily life.
The brother, disillusioned with simply going to college and working in finance, finds he can satiate his sense of adventure by drug dealing. These unhealthy substitutes often begin to ripple into the need for more and more dangerous “adventures” leading to the situation at hand. It also has an affect on those around him, most notably his brother. (More on this later.)
Ryan (played by Billy Magnussen) seeks out a new sexual adventure with new girl he brings to Game Night. Ryan's arc was one of my favorites, because (whether intentional or unintentional) he finds that there's a bigger adventure to be had with someone that can challenge you and reorienting your focus on things greater than pure sexual desire.
Kevin and Michelle, together since middle school, have their desire for adventure played out in their period apart. Gary's desire for adventure slaps you in the face as you find out what's happening throughout the movie. Even Dr. Chin is looking for more adventure in believing there's none left in her current marriage.
It's everywhere if you know where to look. It's even in the viewer as we look to escape in this story. When each of these characters see the adventure at hand, they immerse themselves in it and fight to go deeper and deeper. The desire fuels them into decisions both good and bad, and yes, propels the story forward.
This universal is something that was born out of experience, observation, and history. It appears comparing ourselves to others, only leads to problems. Now, these problems are often easily overcome and can lead to personal improvement, but more often than not, the comparisons compound on themselves and create situations that would have been better avoided.
Game Night is a wealth of these. The starting point was that Max is having a fertility issues driven by his constant negative self-image. This self-image is rooted in his comparisons to his brother's success, looks, etc. Max's put his identity as “Brook's younger, less successful brother” instead of something more grounded (for instance, value as an image bearer of God… 😉 ) and was reaping the consequences of that comparison.
Kevin had two comparison problems. One shown as his jealousy in what happened to Michelle during their time apart, and one in his sense of superiority after finding Michelle was mistaken. Kevin fights to find out who he has to compare himself to, or live up to, in trying to discover her celebrity sexual encounter. This compounds his insecurities as he fears Michelle may see him as “less than” this experience. After finding out she did not sleep with Denzel Washington, he again shows his insecurities by belittling Michelle in her case of mistaken identity. In doing so, he pushes a comparison narrative onto Michelle that belittles her and creates resentment and sadness.
You could say Billy's comparison to other dates led to a better choice in woman, but it's his comparisons that lead to him criticize her while seated right next to her. Gary's constant comparison of everything to Debbie was leading to a life of isolation.
When we don't look at ourselves as who we are, when we start asking questions like “Why aren't I like X?", when we feel we cannot live up to others, it is only a recipe for problems. Some came be more prominent than others, but all cause trouble. As a Christian, when we stop looking at others and start associating ourselves as children of God, as image bearers of God, we being to lose these negative comparison effects and orient ourselves correctly.