I’m not gonna lie- I wasn’t expecting much when initially putting this movie on a few months ago, as I lazily searched for an alternative to watching my fantasy football team get their ass kicked again. Don’t get me wrong, I love Seth Rogen (& crew) as much as the next guy but even Rogen can admit he has swung and missed on a few. I mean, did you see Observe and Report? Or the Green Hornet?! Yikes… At the very worst, this movie would be a “hate watch” situation (although I actually LOVE a good “hate watch”). Best case scenario? I’d get a chuckle or two and take a nice nap. Little did I know that I would watch this movie several more times in the following months and confidently grant it the VERY prestigious “Gardner Stamp of Approval.” In my honest and always-accurate opinion, not only is The Night Before “not bad”- it’s downright good.
Christmas comedies are awesome and usually use the same formula: simple plot in which the good-guy protagonist(s) wish to celebrate the holidays in traditional fashion with loved ones, but are derailed by goofy characters or ill-fated situations along the way. The Night Before is basically no different. Life-long best friends Isaac (Rogen), Ethan (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), and Chris (Anthony Mackie) start a tradition as teenagers in which they spend every Christmas Eve together in their hometown New York City, after the death of Ethan’s parents. Fast-forward to present day, the three friends are on different career paths and decide to celebrate one final time. Predictably, things go haywire during the last hurrah as they try to cross everything off their proverbial checklist before going on their way to the legendary and mysterious “Nutcracker Ball.”
Seth Rogen (who also produces this flick with writing partner Evan Goldberg) quaterbacks the movie, his overindulgence in certain… chemicals… leads to several laugh-out-loud moments. (Quick side note – isn’t that all you really want in a comedy? Personally, if I’m able to laugh out loud several times throughout a movie then I’m chalking that up as a win) While Rogen is the resident scene-stealer of the lead actors, the cameo and supporting performances also provide plenty of humor. James Franco, Mindy Kaling, Ilana Glazer, Michael Shannon and the hilarious Nathan Fielder all pop in and contribute to the fun throughout the movie. The Night Before also not-so-sneakily parodies other Christmas tales, such as Die Hard and A Christmas Carol with a modern touch. Cheesy? Sure, at times. Raunchy? Very much so, which is a good thing. Its not quite Bad Santa-level filth but it’s in the same ballpark.
I know The Night Before isn’t anywhere near a classic Christmas movie. Seth Rogen certainly isn’t gonna be the next Clark Griswold any time soon and Gordon-Levitt doesn’t dish out the next “You’ll poke your eye out, kid!”… But at a time where actual, legitimately funny comedy (small or big budget) movies are seemingly at all-time low – you could certainly do far worse. Instead of watching a Happy Gilmore re-run for the thousandth time or spending an hour scrolling Netflix for a hidden gem that will never EVER appear, give this movie a shot. I promise, if you have even an average sense of humor and are able to avoid taking movies too seriously- you will enjoy this movie.
Photo Credits: Philly.com, Collider