Ethan (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), Isaac (Seth Rogen) and Chris (Anthony Mackie) have been friends since childhood, and for a decade, their yearly Christmas Eve reunion has been an annual night of debauchery and hilarity. Now that they’re entering adulthood, the tradition is coming to an end, and to make it as memorable as possible, they set out to find the Nutcracka Ball – the Holy Grail of Christmas parties.
Christmas movies and Holiday programming can be a lackluster, by the motions experience with lame situations, stale jokes, and contrived moment. However, The Night Before which reunites Joseph Gordon Levitt and Seth Rogen with writer and director Jonathan Levine (the under-appreciated cancer comedy/drama gem 50/50) is an alternative to Holiday cheer with crudeness and debauchery as well as some needed sweetness. Anthony Mackie has joined them for the crazy, drug-induced sleigh ride. Since this is there last night of their decade spanning tradition, they want to live it up and finish off with great memories. What happens is a chaotic night of random situations and bizarre circumstances. Actress Lizzy Caplan, most recognizable to people as the CIA agent alongside Rogen and Franco in news articles about The Interview last Christmas, plays the love interest to Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character.
The best thing about The Night Before how the three actors (Levitt, Rogen, and Mackie) worked well together. They are having a great time and, at times, so is the audience. Not since the original Horrible Bosses has comedic actors conveyed believable bro-chemistry in a mainstream comedic release on this level. Hilarity ensued as they rock New York City and end up in crazy situations. (Behind the scenes antics one typically sees during closing credits would be very fun to watch.) One let down was the desire for more laughs. We come to expect consistent hilarious jokes and gags especially considering what audiences are accustomed to when Sony teams up with Seth Rogen. The Night Before was quite amusing and funny enough, but I wished it was a hilarious experience that I expected from Rogen, Levitt, and Levine. (That sounds like a law firm, doesn’t it!?)
All in all, I enjoyed The Night Before for being an edgy Christmas movie that allows moviegoers to escape and join in on the fun. This is not your father’s Christmas movie. Delightful surprise cameos in the third act provide necessary additional energy, some funny moments, nice twists, and touching moments. The Night Before may not be high art or even a Christmas classic, but moviegoers should have a good time laughing, some will more than others.
- I rate The Night Before - 6.5/106.5/10
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