SKY-HIGH CONCEPT COMEDY
Boosted by its stellar cast and playful take on A Christmas Carol, comingof-age stoner-buddy comedy The Night Before is laced with warm holiday cheer.
Make no mistake: it’s still a silly romp thick with dope smoke and dumb jokes, but the performances are solid, with some surprising sentiment behind the wacky antics.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen and Anthony Mackie play best friends bidding farewell to their 10-year tradition of partying together on Christmas Eve. Ethan (Gordon-Levitt) is determined to make their last night epic, especially since Chris (Mackie) is on a hot streak in his football career and Isaac (Rogen) is expecting a baby.
Isaac’s wife, Betsy (the hilarious Jillian Bell), gives him a special gift in honour of his last Christmas Eve with his pals: a box filled with “every single drug in the whole world”.
Rogen, as Isaac, is predictably over the top as he tries them, falling into a delusional haze. Gross-out moments follow, like when he barfs in church and lets his nose bleed into a woman’s martini.
They meet up with Ethan’s ex (Lizzy Caplan) and her friend (Mindy Kaling), Chris’ mum (Lorraine Toussaint), and Rebecca Grinch (Ilana Glazer), who help balance the dumb-guy debauchery.
Isaac maintains a steady level of wastedness as he frets about fatherhood.
Gordon-Levitt, as Ethan, faces the hardest holiday challenge: What will Christmas Eve be like without his buddies? They’ve moved on with their lives; why hasn’t he?
This millennial coming-ofage story is cloaked in a cloud of smoke. It’s a druggie comedy, sure, but a sweetness about vulnerability, honesty, friends and family cuts through the haze.
Things may be tied up a little too neatly, but it is Christmas, after all.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt in The Night Before.