THE NIGHT BEFORE
Director: Jonathan Levine (50-50) Starring: Seth Rogen, Anthony Mackie, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Jillian Bell, Michael Shannon, Ilana Glazer Verdict: Three less-than-wise men on a Christmas Eve of destruction
ONE day when we are all dead and gone, movie historians will declare Seth Rogen to be the Daniel DayLewis of the stoner comedy.
And they will be right to do so. Across a notably consistent career, Rogen has delivered strong and lastingly laugh-worthy contact-highs to addled audiences everywhere.
While The Night Before does little more than attach many Christmas baubles to Rogen’s regular weedwacked repertoire, it delivers a heavy payload of goof-around gifts direct and on-time.
Rogen stars as Isaac, one of a trio of 30-something buddies about to end a long tradition of Christmas Eve blow-outs now that their respective real-life responsibilities are fully kicking in.
Well, they are for Isaac, at least. He and wife Betsy (Jillian Bell) are about to have their first baby.
In giving her blessing to Isaac’s last big night out, Betsy has kindly handed her partner a box containing “every single drug in the world”.
As you do. And, of course, as you shouldn’t. In a matter of hours, Isaac’s nose will be bleeding into someone else’s martini.
By that time, he and best buds Chris (a steroid-boosted sports star played by Anthony Mackie) and Ethan (a rightfully unemployed musician played by Joseph GordonLevitt) will be deep into a hazy odyssey in search of a fabled NYC Xmas party known as the Nutcracka Ball.
Naturally, there will be behavioural blowback coming the trio’s way for all their ho-ho-bro shenanigans. As a result, the film will go and get too darn cute and cuddly for its own good very late in play. In the meantime, however, the sketchy chain of events linked up here churns up a lot of big, strong, stoo-pid laughs, in a Superbad-meets-A-Very-Haroldand-Kumar-Christmas kind of way.
While the leads have the right reckless chemistry to ensure The Night Before racks up the right number of guilty-pleasure guffaws, a packed support cast (which includes James Franco, Mindy Kaling, Michael Shannon and Broad City’s brilliant Ilana Glazer) also keep yarn in the right (wrong) directions.
In one or two more similar movies’ time, Rogen will be too old to get you to puff on this stuff anymore. So roll up and inhale while you still can.