I saw this as the final film in a 3-film binge at the cinema which also included I, Tonya and The Shape Of Water. So it was a weird contrast, started with two films which have pretty much swept all the awards this season, and then ended with one that definitely didn’t. So it came as a surprise that I was really impressed with a lot in this. Visually it did more than I expected it to. A lot of the establishing shots were set up and lit so that the houses looked more like toy models on a board game. It’s a great visual trick and one that wasn’t actually needed, which makes me appreciate it even more. They could have just done them normally, but the fact they did, was cute and added to the film. This film is actually a lot better in a cinematic sense than you expect, not just with the aforementioned establishing shots, but also the action scenes. They’re not quickly done, the action lingers on and is really well constructed. Shout out has to go a scene involving the characters playing keep-away with a Faberge egg. A seemingly one-shot scene that tracks all the way through a house and involves all the characters at different locations in the house. A remarkable achievement and one that will surely land in my “best scenes of the year” come years end.
So onto the rest of the film. This wasn’t the best film I’ve seen, but it was very very good. Was funny, had more twists than a pretzel, and the performances did what they needed to. It’s basically the cinematic equivalent of a burger, it won’t change your life, and you won’t rush out to consume it again, but it is incredibly enjoyable whilst it lasts, and you will have fond memories of it.
Back to the performances; Billy Magnussen, in particular, was impressive. From what I saw in the trailers, and from his opening scene, I assumed his performance would be “Poundland Alan Tudyk”, but it was a great performance. So more like the Pepsi to Tudyk’s Coca-Cola, not quite the same but enough similarities where you like it anyway. His character is basically a smart idiot, which is always a great character for comedy. Actually, the entire thing is full of well-developed characters. 10 characters are given extensive screen time, they all have their own personalities and quirks. Whilst the film itself doesn’t really lend itself to a sequel, the characters do.
I feel special mention has to go to Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams. Not only for their performances on their own but also their on-screen chemistry. They make an easily believable onscreen couple, which makes it easier to root for them. Also, thank God this film doesn’t go with the traditional “couple fights after a misunderstanding” sub-plot. No matter what goes on in the film they’re a tight couple, it’s actually genuinely heartwarming and sweet to see such an idyllic vision of love and relationships in modern cinema. The montage where we see their relationship develop and grow is a brilliant piece of relationship-building, very good, very funny, and incredibly sweet.
So, in summary. I’d highly recommend this film, a welcome piece of comedy to watch during the overly serious Oscar season. A fun caper that you can lose yourself in briefly. Buy on DVD if you see it in a 2 for 1 deal.