A Christmas stoner comedy? I guess you could say Seth Rogen and company are taking the term “high holidays” quite literally! [clears throat] OK, on with the review.
“The Night Before” stars Seth Rogen, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Anthony Mackie as three lifelong friends who have a tradition of going out and getting drunk on Christmas Eve. With Rogen expecting a baby and Mackie having become too famous of an athlete, the trio decides this bash shall be their last, and set out to attend the biggest party in New York City. Jonathan Levine directs.
The last time Levine directed Gordon-Levitt and Rogen was “50/50” in 2011, and that was one of the best films of that year. Levine was able to walk the thin line of comedy and drama without being pandering or schmaltzy, and he again finds a similar balance in this raunchy and sweet, if not a tad under-satisfying, Yuletide tale.
Right off the bat, one of the biggest things “The Night Before” has going for it is its cast, in particular the chemistry between the three leads. They really feel like genuine friends and have good give-and-take among each other. The supporting cast, with comedians like Jillian Bell, Nathan Fielder, and Mindy Kaling, all add different flavors to the film, even if some of their characters feel underused or even forced into certain scenes.
Seth Rogen is arguably the funniest man in Hollywood and he again steals the show here. Rogen is on mushrooms, cocaine, marijuana, or the combination of the three throughout most of the film, so as the movie goes on, he just gets crazier, which is great fun.
While Rogen himself is hilarious, the film itself can’t keep up. It is an overall pretty funny film, however each big laugh is attributed to Rogen. Everyone else is playing second fiddle, and when Rogen isn’t on screen the energy of the film takes a noticeable dive; so in a way, Rogen’s brilliance exposes the flaws.
Really the best film to compare this to is “A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas,” not only because of the lazy fact that it’s a stoner Christmas comedy set in New York City, but because the plot runs thin after about 45 minutes and you can tell certain scenes were added or extended to get the running time up. If you are forgiving of things like this then great; it’s just my job to bring it up.
“The Night Before” isn’t the hilarious Christmas classic I wanted it to be, and it isn’t up to par with Rogen’s most recent work (not counting “The Interview,” which ironically came out last Christmas), but I’m sure I will rewatch it again next December, and if you’re feeling like getting some holiday cheer a little early, there are worse ways than watching a Seth Rogen film.
Critics Rating: 6/10