Written by Jonathan Levine, Kyle Hunter, Ariel Shaffir and Evan Goldberg / Directed by Jonathan Levine / Starring Joseph Gordon Levitt, Seth Rogen and Anthony Mackie
Isaac: Hallelur. (A drug addled Seth Rogen attempting to say, “Hallelujah” in church.)
The last time Seth Rogen and Joseph Gordon Levitt teamed up in a film from director Jonathan Levine (50/50), I cried for about two hours straight. They’re together again in THE NIGHT BEFORE, throwing Anthony Mackie into the mix as well, and again, nothing but tears … of joy, that is, from laughing too hard and just plain having a grand ol’ time. THE NIGHT BEFORE is far from perfect, and even further from realistic, but it’s a Christmas movie after all, and it captures that particular magic masterfully.
The story is simple enough. Levitt plays Ethan, who loses his parents around the holidays when he is in college. His two best friends, Isaac and Chris (Rogen and Mackie) spend Christmas Eve with him and hit up a bunch of NYC holiday benchmarks, from the tree at Rockefeller Center to getting Chinese food, all the while getting their booze on to make the season merrier and brighter. From that moment on, this becomes their Christmas tradition. X amount of years later, Isaac has a growing family and Chris has a budding sports career, while Ethan hasn’t changed much at all. They’ve all agreed that this Christmas will be the last Christmas they celebrate together because life is getting in the way. To commemorate the occasion, they will attend the Nutcracker Ball, an epic and exclusive holiday party that has eluded them all these years.
Sorry to flake out on you but I don’t have all that much to really say about THE NIGHT BEFORE. That said, I honestly don’t think very much needs to be said about it. It’s got a great cast, including supporting players like Jillian Bell (22 JUMP STREET), Lizzy Caplan (THE INTERVIEW), Ilana Glazer (Broad City), Mindy Kaling (The Mindy Project) and Michael Shannon, who steals the show as Mr. Green, a pot dealer with a heart of gold. Its plot is fairly straight forward but it is enhanced by honouring many Christmas classics that have come before it, from HOME ALONE to Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas to even Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Most importantly though, it is very funny without trying too hard and without pretending to be anything other than the Christmas-y goodness it is. So pop on your holiday sweater, partake in the party favour of your choice and let THE NIGHT BEFORE help you ring in the season!