“The Night Before,” Underwhelming but Sweet Christmas Comedy


Anthony Mackie, Seth Rogen and Joseph Gordon-Levitt in Jonathan Levine’s “The Night Before.”

Directed by Jonathan Levine.

Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen and Anthony Mackie.

Rated R.

2015 – 101 minutes.


With last year’s “Neighbors” and “The Interview,” Seth Rogen has had a recent surge of much-deserved popularity. He has a sense of refreshing honesty that is often present in both his movies and interviews. He may be this generation’s definitive comedian in Hollywood, which is one of many reasons why “The Night Before” was a largely hyped movie. It turns out that, while Rogen has lots of time to shine, it is more the story of his co-star Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s (“(500) Days of Summer” & “Inception”) character.

It tells the story of three lifelong friends: Ethan (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), Isaac (Seth Rogen) and Chris (Anthony Mackie). This Christmas, as they have decided, will be the last one they spend together as a part of a tradition of theirs, sparked by the sudden death of Ethan’s parents. This is because Isaac is married and has a kid on the way and Chris, who has recently become a famous NFL star, is too busy for them. Soon, they get the opportunity to go to the biggest, most exclusive Christmas party in New York City. They plan to make it the best night possible but as it gets crazier and crazier as it goes on.

In terms of the comedy, “The Night Before” is somewhat on autopilot. For a movie from Rogen and co., lots of the humor is fairly predictable and comes from a similar place as their other movies. It leans a bit too heavily on an inebriated Seth Rogen, who is hallucinating on mushrooms for most of the movie, to provide a lot of the comedy. Initially, this part of it is hilarious in a dark way but it quickly gets old. It’s obvious that they knew audiences would find that funny because they advertised some of his bigger, if not, his biggest moments in the trailer. While it definitely has laughs hidden up its sleeves, it never reaches the level of funny, clever stupidity that the same crew has shown in other movies.

Where it makes up for this, surprisingly, is the film’s truthful depiction of friendship. Often, the people you love have to be cut a bit from your life because of family, work, or other personal reasons.  It speaks on the subject eloquently, and is something that most movies fail to capture. This is also largely in part to the great bond between the three leads; their friendship is never questionable, even though the story they are apart of goes through the motions for the most part.

If you are a fan of the brand of humor that movies such as “This Is the End,” “Neighbors,” and “The Interview” have to offer, or if you are just in the mood for a heartfelt Christmas movie about what the Christmas spirit does to people, then “The Night Before” could be right up your alley. It just does not deliver as much on these fronts as it had the potential to. In a time where Rogen has put out successful comedy after comedy, it will likely fall into the pool of not being remembered as well as others, but it is entertaining for what it’s worth.

Overall grade: [B-]