If you’ve seen one Seth Rogen film, you’ve practically seen them all. The film likely involves a group of friends, whose friendship is tested after some life event. Sometimes, this formula leads to terrific results, as in the case of 2011’s 50/50. Other times, a la last year’s The Interview, the zaniness of the project leads to its downfall. With The Night Before, Seth Rogen and JGL provide a satisfactory holiday film, which is held afloat by the tremendous chemistry between these real-life friends.
Joseph Gordon Levitt stars as Tommy, who, ever since losing his parents to a drunk driver on Christmas Eve, has celebrated the holidays with his lifelong pals Isaac and Chris, played by Seth Rogen and Anthony Mackie. While the last ten years of Christmas have been filled with drinks, drugs, and debauchery, the trio realizes their annual tradition is coming to a screeching halt. With Chris’ newfound fame in the NFL and the imminent birth of Isaac’s first child, the gang decides to go out with a bang by searching for the Nutcracka Ball, an enigmatic party that has eluded them for years.
Most importantly, the film captures the true spirit of the Holidays. Tommy, despite being 34 years old, acts as the idealistic child who believes in the power and magic of Christmas. While his two friends have become preoccupied with fame, girls, and their own problems, his steadfast resolve to celebrate Christmas the right way keeps the film moving forward. This allows the characters to follow a very typical and cliche trajectory: from best friends to disillusioned buddies to reunited once again. Ultimately though, the camaraderie shown by our three leads helps propel this film. For those unaware, Seth Rogen and other stars such as James Franco and Gordon-Levitt are quite close in real life, and this real-life friendship translates perfectly on screen. Stealing the show, however, is Michael Shannon as the mysterious drug-dealing former teacher of the trio, Mr. Green. Popping up time to time when the gang is in need of weed, Mr. Green acts as a vessel through which the audience understands character motivations, events past or future, and even the psyche of our main characters.
Refreshingly, the major laughs of the film were not spoiled by the trailers. One particular heavily publicized scene involved Rogen, playing a Jewish character, throwing up at midnight mass while high on shrooms and cocaine; although marketed as a golden moment, this particular scene seems rather forced and unnecessary, though the moments before and after are some of the best in the film. While The Night Before is not worthy of becoming a Holiday classic that you’ll want to watch over and over, it’s still an enjoyable ride. Various cameos proved to be delightful, especially one that you should see coming, but likely overlook. Miley Cyrus provides some cringe-worthy moments during the climax, but overall, The Night Before had enough unique elements to make it worth watching, pleasing most Rogen fans and providing some much-needed laughs this Holiday season.