A riff on David Fincher that strikes out far above its peers by being surprisingly well-directed. The premise and cast are strong enough that this would have worked fine as a typical modern American comedy – flatly lit, competently shot, extended improvisation. But directors John Francis Daley and Jonathan make a genuine attempt at something cinematic here.
Extensive tilt shift shots visually reflecting board games and thus playing into the actual ideas of the film, manic comic tracking shots, quick-cuts played for jarring and comedic effect, and an overall visual style keyed earnestly into Fincher-esque thriller sensibilities, it all comes together to make a film that works, and keeps working in new and interesting ways. I particularly liked how driving shots were filmed and stabilised at an angle that made them appear like the camera that follows a player driving in a video game. The film is brimming with visual ideas that directly connect with its story and comedy. It’s a wonderful thing, even though the story loses steam and becomes more derivative as the first moves on from its great first act.
A rare thing, a modern comedy as visually inventive as this. Three and a half Scrabble pieces, and a fake gun.