The Night Before (16)
Director: Jonathan Levine.
Written by: Jonathan Levine, Kyle Hunter, Ariel Shaffir & Evan Goldberg.
Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen, Anthony Mackie & Lizzy Caplan.
Running Time: 101 Minutes.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Seth Rogen have reteamed with their 50/50 director for the trippy, festive treat that is The Night Before.
Ethan (Gordon-Levitt) hasn’t liked the Christmas holidays since his parents died when he was a teenager. His friends (Rogen and Mackie) promise him that they’ll spend Christmas Eve together every year so he doesn’t feel alone. We’re shown the tradition the friends have kept throughout the years with the same routine; recreating the giant floor piano scene from Big in a toystore, getting Chinese food at their favourite restaurant, and karaoke at the only karaoke bar open on Christmas Eve. They hear of an amazing Christmas party called the “Nutcracka Ball”, an extravaganza that is apparently the best party in New York City, but never manage to wrangle an invitation.
The film then settles on the present day and the three friends have mutually decided to end their tradition after one final hurrah. This due to Isaac (Rogen) starting a family and Chris (Mackie) becoming a famous football player. Ethan has still not found a way to move on, having just come out of a relationship with Diana (Lizzy Caplan) and now he’s stuck in a depressing job dressed as an elf. When taking coats at the entrance to the party he’s working on, Ethan finds tickets to the party that has eluded the three friends all these years. Ethan ditches the job and goes in search of this party with his friends in tow, though there are a few hitches on the journey there.
After the abysmal The Interview, I was expecting The Night Before to be mediocre at best as it has the same creative team. To my surprise, The Night Before turned out to be one of the funniest films of the year that’s filled with crude jokes and festive cheer. Rogen has had quite a year with praise for his dramatic performance in Steve Jobs, and now this, proving he’s not losing his comedic touch. His character provides many of the film’s highlights, one of which includes a vomit incident in a church. Isaac’s wife has allowed him one last night of debauchery due to how supportive he has been during her pregnancy. As a reward, she presents him with a box full of drugs, and you can imagine where it goes from here. While still funny, Gordon-Levitt and Mackie provide the more dramatic moments of the film as they deal with their own issues. Levitt’s character is attempting to confront his faults and better himself, while Mackie’s character is still coming to terms with his newly found fame.
The film has quite an impressive supporting cast that all provide laughs at some point or another. Broad City’s Ilana Glazer has a small role as a character who likens herself to the Grinch and other Christmas movie villains. Michael Shannon plays a role unlike any other he’s played before as the sketchy dealer the guys buy weed from (I had to look twice before realising it was him). The film also features some hilarious cameos from James Franco and Miley Cyrus.
Verdict: Hilarious from start to finish, The Night Before proves to be one of the more memorable entries in the stoner comedy genre, but with an added festive edge. It is a fun way to take a well deserved break from studying for those Christmas exams.
If you want to know more about The Night Before, you can ask Alex on Twitter. Or just go see the film yourself. Geez.