**1/2 (out of four)
DIRECTED BY John Francis Daley & Jonathan Goldstein
STARS Jason Bateman, Rachel McAdams
It’s no match for a marathon evening of Apples to Apples with assorted friends and loved ones, but as a date-night option, a person could do worse than Game Night.
A reasonably diverting comedy that hits all the expected beats, this stars Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams as Max and Annie, a couple who routinely invite their friends over to their house to partake in Parcheesi, charades, Monopoly and seemingly every other game this side of Spin the Bottle. Kicking up the festivities a notch is Max’s highly competitive brother Brooks (Kyle Chandler), who arranges a murder-mystery party for the gang. Brooks ends up getting kidnapped, a wrinkle that amuses the participants until they realize that the snatch wasn’t part of the game and that Brooks’ life is actually in danger.
Sporting as many twists as David Fincher’s comparatively more somber The Game, Game Night works best when it focuses on the personalities of its characters and meanders when it pays too much attention to the particulars of the plots-within-the-plot (which don’t really hold up to post-viewing scrutiny anyway). Bateman and McAdams enjoy an easy rapport together, and stay through the final credits for a capper to the running gag involving no less than Denzel Washington.