Not everyone is a big fan of Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s shtick, a wildly successful but often repetitive style of comedy that repeats actors, repeats scenarios, and certainly repeats drug use. The one thing that tends to accompany the zany filth that Rogen perpetrates is the also the always apparent message behind the madness, a script that makes comedic situations out of characters who are having a bit of personal crisis during whatever contrivance is moving the plot forward.
Throw in dramatic director Jonathan Levine, who previously collaborated with Rogen and Joseph Gordon-Levitt (another star of this film) on 50/50, and the more personal messages behind the comedy make the movie more engaging, the characters more likable, and therefore, make the jokes land a bit harder. Because we like this trio of actors, we’re willing to tolerate mistakes in the film to get to the laughs, and The Night Before is well worth the price of admission and should join in with some constantly revisited Christmas comedies.
After a drunk-driving accident killed Joseph Gordon-Levitt, aka Ethan,’s parents back in his teens, he has spent every Christmas Eve with his main bros, Isaac (Seth Rogen) and Chris (Anthony Mackie). But now, years later, Isaac is expecting a child with his wife (Jillian Bell) and Chris has finally made it in pro football, possibly because of PEDs. Their busy schedules have made them swear that this is the last year they can do this bachelor-esque trolling around New York City on Christmas, so Ethan is finally able to snag three tickets to the transcendent ‘Nutcracker Ball,’ where they can party their asses off for their last hurrah. Mix in Issac’s wife throwing together a cornucopia of experimental drugs as a gift, a weed-dealing Michael Shannon, and wonderful cameos from some great comedians, we have a wild ride full of Christmas spirit.
Because these actors and writers have co-mingled so much, their chemistry is tough to dispute. They all play off of and work with one another’s style of acting and style of comedy very effortlessly. There was never a moment where I didn’t buy that these guys were three friends struggling to grasp maturity. That may seem like a concept that’s been worn thin, but the message about growing with your friends so you can maintain your friendships in the future is a nice and positive look at maturity.
In terms of the comedy, this is a laugh out loud, consistently funny film. The drug humor is funny, the cameos are funny, and it never becomes only for shock value or only to be gross. It’s all clever visual gags, or silly dialogue that works together, and because we like the characters, this is well worth the viewing.