“No Small Parts”: Jesse Plemons Takes “Game Night” to Hilarious and Disturbing Places


Kevin: We don’t often write about comedies here at Tough Guy Digest, because it’s difficult to know what else to say beyond that if something made you laugh then it was successful, and if it didn’t then it wasn’t. And what people find funny can wildly differ, since for every one genius who recognizes the brilliance of a “Hot Rod” or “MacGruber,” there are many more who somehow enjoyed not just the first “Hangover,” but all three. But when it comes to today’s subject of our “No Small Parts” series – in which we highlight an actor who made a major impression with minor screen time – anyone who caught “Game Night” from earlier this year can attest that Jesse Plemons’ performance is not only the comedic highlight of a very funny film, but may also be the funniest performance you’ll see in a movie all year:

“Game Night” didn’t do as well at the box office as it probably should have, likely on account of coming out a week after the juggernaut known as “Black Panther,” but it’s one of those comedies that people will keep discovering in the future and wonder why they didn’t see it sooner. It’s anchored by some likeable leads in Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams, and it keeps coming up with ways to raise the stakes on its premise – about a group of friends competing in a fake kidnapping mystery that actually turns out to be real – without going off the rails. It’s also the rare comedy nowadays that depends on finely tuned jokes and performances from actual actors like Kyle Chandler and Danny Huston, rather than filling the supporting cast with the likes of Hannibal Buress or Kumail Nanjiani and expecting them to improvise their way through a scene.

But among those actors, the biggest laughs are generated by Chandler’s “Friday Night Lights” co-star Plemons as Gary, the next door neighbor who is never seen out of his police officer uniform or without his dog Sebastian on his arm, and who is as friendly as he is deeply, deeply unsettling. Even the late Tom Wolfe would have trouble accurately conveying why Plemons’ emotionless delivery of dialogue such as, “Just checking the mail. Some people check it earlier in the day, but there’s always a risk that the mail carrier hasn’t come yet. This spares me the chance of a futile trip to the mailbox,” is so hilariously creepy; you just have to see it for yourself. Eventually I started cracking up in advance any time Plemons showed up, and he is even able to make the act of slowly walking out of a doorway one of the funniest moments in the film:

Out of the many talented actors from “Friday Night Lights,” it would have been impossible to predict that the one playing comic relief character Landry would eventually have the most diverse and interesting career, with Plemons turning in memorable turns in projects such as “Breaking Bad,” “The Master,” The Post,” and a recent episode of “Black Mirror,” among others. Even if you don’t think “Game Night” is the funniest comedy you’ve seen in a while, there is no way you’ll be able to forget Plemons’ performance, and I would easily look forward to a sequel focused entirely on the socially awkward adventures of Gary and Sebastian.

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