The Night Before

Directed By: Jonathan Levine

Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen, Anthony Mackie, Lizzy Caplan, Jillian Bell, Michael Shannon, and Mindy Kaling

I've apparently been in need of a good raunchy comedy and didn't even know it.  We had Ted 2 and Trainwreck this past summer, but I can't think of a wild comedy from 2015 that makes me instantly chuckle upon reflection.  That’s a real shame.  If The Night Before is any sign, there’s still hope for what little bit of time we have left in this year.  Far more coherent than Love the Coopers (still keeping in mind that this is a Seth Rogen comedy), this Christmas movie is a cross between Old School and Bad Santa.  I’m not putting it up there on par with either of these beloved delights, but The Night Before is one entertaining romp that gets the party started right during this holiday movie season.

Fourteen years ago, Ethan Miller (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) lost his parents in an accident.  At Christmas time, he had no family, until his best friends Isaac Greenberg (Seth Rogen) and Chris Roberts (Anthony Mackie) stepped in.  Since then, the trio of friends has celebrated Christmas annually by partying the night before away.  Despite all their reveling, there has been one white whale that has eluded them, the decadent holiday party known as the Nutcracker Ball at which celebrities, athletes, and bigwigs party in secret.  Fast forward to the present.  Isaac is about to have a child with his wife Betsy (Jillian Bell).  Chris is entirely too busy with his successful football career and evading his mother (Lorraine Toussaint).  There’s no more time for the trio’s long-running holiday tradition.  It’s only poor Ethan who still has no family and no plans for his Christmases once the tradition comes to an end.

As their final Christmas commences, Ethan happens to come across three coveted tickets for the Nutcracker Ball.  He steals them and saves them for the trio’s final Christmas to come later that evening.  Before the boys go out, Isaac and Chris put a plan together to make it clear to Ethan that this is the final Christmas they’re going out together and that things have to change.  In other words, Ethan has to grow up.  They want to encourage him to get back together with his ex-girlfriend Diana (Lizzy Caplan) with whom he had commitment issues.  Their plans are complicated when Betsy hands shrooms, cocaine, and all sorts of other drugs to Isaac and when Ethan reveals that he’s got tickets to the Nutcracker Ball.  The friends decide to start off the night light and work their way up to the ball.  Along the way to one wild night, they encounter Diana and her friend Sarah (Mindy Kaling) as well as their old high school teacher Mr. Green (Michael Shannon).

The Night Before
certainly doesn’t join the ranks of great Christmas movies.  It’s more of a party movie by nature in the vein of This Is the End and Neighbors.  That being said, it is a fun little romp full of wild shenanigans that's genuinely funny.  I'm not going to say that I cried from laughter, but there are plenty of memorably amusing moments throughout this Christmas flick.  Jonathan Levine of 50/50 and Warm Bodies fame is in the director's chair for The Night Before, and he makes sure that this party flick has some semblance of a story.  In essence, The Night Before is really a comedic tale about growing up.  Though the characters demonstrate exactly the antithesis of growth throughout most of the movie, the narrative and our lead trio's performances in the end reflect said growth.  

The cast delivers the goods throughout The Night Before making it one funny film.  For his part as Ethan, Joseph Gordon-Levitt is one entertaining man-child.  Unable to commit to anything and unable to give up this tradition of his youth, he's a character unable to grow up and realize that life does move on.  For his part as Isaac, Seth Rogen is one crazy dude on camera.  This is Rogen in good form ready to party, and he brings his typical hilarious zaniness to the table.  Rounding out our main trio, we have Anthony Mackie as Chris.  Arrogant to a fault, Mackie's constant demonstration of his crazy social media game is quite amusing.  This performance from Mackie is certainly livelier than what he gave us just a few short weeks ago in Love the Coopers.  The film’s supporting cast members all bring something to the table as well.

The Night Before
gets a strong 0.06% rating.  Entertaining on the whole, you'll just need a couple of rounds of beer with this one.