Review: The Night Before
PLOT: Three best buddies (Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen Anthony Mackie) spend a wild Christmas Eve on the town – with it planned as their last hurrah before moving-on to lead (presumably) more responsible lives. But, the last minute gift of a box of hard drugs from one of their wives and some tickets to a bawdy party means the trio is in for one wild night of debauchery.
REVIEW: Seth Rogen and Joseph Gordon-Levitt fare-well under Jonathan Levine's direction. The three previously scored a hit with 50/50 and now they're back with a lighter lark, with THE NIGHT BEFORE their attempt to make a classic, off-the-wall x-mas comedy in the vein of something like SCROOGED.
While only time will tell if the guys have made a movie that'll still be watched several Christmases from now, they've certainly put together one funny-as-hell Christmas comedy that's way better than most other yuletide comedies we've seen hit the multiplex in the last few years. For Rogen, it's a nice step back into more innocuous fare after the controversy surrounding THE INTERVIEW. Certainly there's nothing here to upset anyone besides the most prudish audiences, as for all the drug-use and bad language, THE NIGHT BEFORE is a surprisingly heartfelt Christmas comedy with some decent values at its core, even if it hits all the predictable holiday movie beats.
Levitt and Rogen made for a solid pair in 50/50, and Anthony Mackie is a pretty good addition to the bunch, with his cool-guy, macho football-hero being an unlikely but fun part of their nerdy (in a hip way) crew. While Mackie probably has the least to do of the three, he does get some kind of arc, with him being set-up as somewhat steroid-addled, and his ongoing pursuit of Broad City's Ilana Glazer (who fancies herself a hipster Grinch that goes around stealing weed and imitating classic X-Mas movie villains) is hilarious.
Still, most of the big laughs go to Seth Rogen, with him dipping in to his wife's (the funny and likable Jillian Bell) drug-stash pretty liberally. Rogen gets to pretty much act out a laundry list of bad drug reactions here, from the paranoia of weed to the tripiness of mushrooms to the insanity of cocaine and so-on. While some might object to hard drugs being used as a punchline, it can't be denied Rogen always nails this kind of drug-fueled comedy (weed-smokers will dig the hell outta this).
For his part, Levitt is the defacto straight-man, with the gist being that he lost his folks to a drunk driver on x-mas, leading to his yearly blow-out with his buds. As usual for a Christmas movie, the "heartfelt" part has to do with Levitt's struggle to man-up and patch things up with his girlfriend (Lizzy Caplan – gorgeous as always). As usual for a Rogen comedy, there are loads of cameos here – with most of his regular pals showing up. However, the funniest performance in the film comes from none other than Michael Shannon, who has a full-on supporting part as insightful weed-dealer Mr. Green. Shannon steals every scene with what he calls his "quiet intensity" and shows a real flair for comedy (he still doesn't smile though).
While not a total game-changer as far as comedies go, THE NIGHT BEFORE is still one of the year's funnier films, and a very fun ninety minutes spent at the movie theater. It's a ton of fun and will be an excellent stocking-stuffer for fans of Rogen's over the holidays. I could see this one becoming something of a perennial favorite among his fans in years to come.