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Non-Review Review: Game Night

Game Night is a delightfully strange creation, the kind of film that feels willfully esoteric.

Game Night a comedy built around an extended whole plot reference to a largely forgotten-by-all-but-hardcore-devotees mid-tier nineties David Fincher movie. Despite amassing something of a cult following, and despite the fact that it has aged relatively well as an example of Fincher’s craft, The Game is largely seen as a curiousity in Fincher’s filmography. It lacks the gravity and cultural weight afforded to the Fincher films that impacted the zeitgeist and resonated with critics; se7en, Fight Club,Β Zodiac, The Social Network.

A cheesy premise.

As such, it is strange to see a comedy built as an extended homage to The Game. Not that there is anything wrong with The Game. As with any Fincher film, it is a very well-constructed film and one that is satisfying on its own terms, even if it never elevates itself in the same way as the best of the director’s work. It seems like a strange choice for a loving spoof twenty years after the fact. Perhaps Game Night can be contextualised as one of the more bizarre and specific expressions of the nineties nostalgia otherwise referenced in films like Jurassic World or Independence Day: Resurgence.

However, what is especially striking about Game Night is its commitment to this singular extended reference. This is not a film recycling the basic concept of The Game, it is a film defined and shaped by The Game. While it is very clearly nested inside the framework of a contemporary studio comedy, Game Night proves endearingly invested in its inspiration. Game Night is very… well… game.

Getting on board with the premise.

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Non-Review Review: The Game

The Game is perhaps something of a black sheep on David Fincher’s filmography. It wasn’t quite an early work like Alien 3, but it falls between two of his larger and better received works, Se7en and Fight Club. While it contains the same thematic depth which would define Fincher’s work (and continues to), exploring ideas like the nature of social interactions and the hostile world, it isn’t quite as readily accessible as most of his other work. From the outset, it’s almost as though The Game wants you to believe that it is just a set-up, that it’s rigged, that it will have a ridiculous and illogical conclusion, which makes it a difficult movie for the audience to engage with or trust. The Game hinges on the audience (and the central character) being unable to distinguish between the set-up and reality – effectively letting the audience know that they are going to be toyed with, and potentially alienating them. Which is a shame, because it’s a cleverly constructed little film which would be a lot more charming if it didn’t spend so much of its time informing you of how smart it is.

Quit clowning around...

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