The Night Before - This is How You Do a Christmas Comedy (With Drugs)

Matthew Parkinson | 22 Nov 2015 12:00
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Directed by Jonathan Levine. Produced by Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogen, and James Weaver. Written by Evan Goldberg, Kyle Hunter, Jonathan Levine, and Ariel Shaffir. Release date: November 25, 2015.

After getting a pretty terrible Christmas movie last week with Love the Coopers, now we've got a pretty funny one with The Night Before. Granted, they are very different movies - the former wants to be a "family" comedy/drama/romance, while the latter is an adult stoner comedy - but they're both centered around the holidays, and both predictably preach about the importance of family, particularly around Christmastime, because if you don't have anyone with whom to spend the holidays, your life has basically been ruined, apparently.

The Night Before stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen, and Anthony Mackie, the final of whom also appeared in Love the Coopers, although in less important (and more interesting and therefore wasted) role. The basic plot here is that Levitt's character lost his parents before Christmas over a decade ago, and Rogen and Mackie have spent Christmas Eve with him every year since. But they're grown up now, so this is going to be the final time. Fortunately, they have tickets to an exclusive party and are equipped with an extraordinarily large amount of drugs, so they're ready for the night of their lives.

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However, thanks to a varying degree of both internal and external influences, this doesn't just become a party movie where the consequences are discovered afterward. It's not Project X or 21 & Over, something for which I will be forever thankful. No, their problems start earlier than that, even if Rogen's character spends the vast majority of the movie under the influence of a variety of drugs. No, The Night Before has more going on with it than that. As a result, not only are these characters more interesting, but the plot has more going on with it than following these people on a journey through New York City.

For instance, the Rogen character has a wife (Jillian Bell) who is far along in a pregnancy. While high, he records the best anti-baby tirade in cinema history onto his phone. Well, that phone gets lost, so one of the film's subplots involves him trying to find it. Gordon-Levitt's character is still pursuing The Girl That Got Away (Lizzy Caplan) while also dwelling on the past and using it as an excuse to avoid progressing forward in his life. Mackie is now a professional athlete who has a need to feel beloved by his teammates and fans - even though he paradoxically hates it when his mother parades him around. These subplots allow us to learn more about these characters than these types of comedies often allow, while also giving them more than enough of a chance to grow and learn, teaching the audience the film's lessons in the process.

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