Ready or Not

Ready or Not ★★½

This is the house where Bruce Willis fucked up the wedding between Kim Basinger and John Larroquette in Blind Date, isn’t it? It’s not like I’m gonna go back and rewatch that movie again, but I’d bet a Yankee dollar it is. Remember those good old days, when Blake Edwards could still get a movie by dining out on The Pink Panther and 10, and Bruce Willis would be in movies and, you know, try? Sure, the movie was mediocre even through the lens of nostalgia, but at least Ready or Not has the smarts to immediately call back to… a mediocre Blake Edwards flick from when he’d spent seven years giving up. Yeah, okay. Let’s do this.

Samara Weaving’s marrying into a weird, old money family that made its money selling board games, back in the days when games were printed on cardboard, and the family would sit around, rolling dice and moving pieces and ruining each others’ evenings, because Steve Jobs didn’t have the common decency to invent the iPhone so we could just sit around ignoring each other like civilized people.

The family has a tradition: at midnight after a wedding, they draw a card, and the whole family plays a game. Which is a normal and benign thing to do, except when the game is Hide and Seek, the whole family tries to hunt down the new member of the family with a pile of turn of the century hunting weapons. So the numbers are on the blue bloods’ side, but Samara came through the foster care system, so she’s seen some shit, man. Picture John McClane, in a white dress with better legs, against the most pampered and inbred of second generation Trumps… which actually makes this seem like a more entertaining proposition than Blind Date, with the actual John McClane.

There’s a pretty standard track that a movie like this should follow, but it does do something interesting with the family of blue bloods, which is, while treating them like somewhat bumbling, yet potentially dangerous, comic relief at times, it also treats them like a real family, in the sense that traditions really don’t mean so much as the generations go on, do they? I mean, my grandparents did the Feast of the Seven Fishes for the entire extended family every Christmas Eve, then my parents did an annual party at a local bar for the family in the area, and my generation? Well, I try to remember to email some of my cousins at the end of the year, but half of them are twins and I can’t keep the names straight. Not after years of annual bar Christmas parties, I can’t. But this isn’t about me.

As the movie goes along, it plays out as more a dark comedy than anything else, and that’s fine for me. Sure, Great Grandpa might have been a Great White Hunter, but a couple of generations of cable TV and Morton’s steak dinners have made these people as soft as rotted fruit. Don’t get me wrong, I can’t hit the broad side of the barn from the inside with more than two shots out of five on a good day, but that’s one and a half better than these spastics. Look, a twitchy drunk with a gun can kill you just as dead as Dirty Harry - ask Florida Man - so the danger stays real while the threat is pretty ridiculous. It keeps things kinda light and fun, even as blood is shed and people get hurt.

Overall the acting is… fine. Almost everyone in the family is a broad archetype as opposed to an actual character, but they embody them pretty well, especially Andie MacDowell, who seems to be having a blast playing up an aging southern broad who’s just loving the money and her found family. Samara Weaving is fine, but as an audience surrogate, she only has to be likeable and act like someone who would go see a movie like Ready or Not to succeed, and she does that admirably.

The plot moves in the direction you’d expect, the people you want to see get a comeuppance get their uppance camed, and the flick gets a few extra points for giving us an ending that visually calls back to Heathers, and that refines Fitzgerald’s theory about the rich: they are very different than you and me… in that they suck and are useless and are fun to watch explode.

Ready or Not is not a bad dark comedy with some decent violence and enough suspense to keep it interesting. It’s a fun Saturday or Sunday night over a couple of beers.

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