Every year Hollywood gifts the world at least one film that cashes in on the impending festive season, some are good (Bad Santa), many are bad (Jingle All The Way), and a rare few achieve the kind of classic status that immediately relegate them to annual holiday viewing lists everywhere (Home Alone 1 & 2, Die Hard). With The Night Before, director Jonathan Levine adds a new entry to the Christmas movie canon with an altogether different genre: the slacker/stoner/boys comedy.
So, is it any good?Ethan, Isaac and Chris are three lifelong friends who for the last 14 years have celebrated Christmas Eve by heading out to their favourite New York City haunts to party, drink and generally get up to all manner of mischief. This year however, things are a little different: Isaac (Seth Rogen) has a baby on the way, Chris (Anthony Mackie) is finding success late in his career as a professional athlete, and much to Ethan’s (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) dismay, the boys decide they’re getting too old for this shit. So our three merry set out on what is to be their final XMAS outing, where drinks will be consumed, hallucinogenic drugs will be taken, and more than a few long standing issues between friends will bubble to the surface.Whilst not a terribly memorable Christmas film or comedy in its own right, The Night Before is nevertheless a fun way to spend 90 minutes in a cinema this holiday season. The chemistry between the three leads is strong, with Gordon-Levitt given the more dramatic of the three roles, while Mackie and Rogen have full reign to flex their comedic chops. You totally buy into the fact that these three friends have been through thick and thin together, and as a result, the film suffers whenever they’re not on screen together. Luckily however, there’s a whole host of cameos to keep you entertained throughout, some more memorable than others, but none of which I will spoil for you here.
When you boil it down, this is essentially Superbad for thirty-somethings set at Christmas time, but instead of going off to college, these guys are learning what it means to be adults and parents. Not surprisingly, the audience members who will get the most out of this film are the ones going through the same stage of life as the characters on screen. For everyone else, The Night Before represents the kind of funny yet forgetful comedy that Rogen and friends do so well. Just don’t go expect it to be sitting alongside your copy of Christmas Vacation this time next year.
The Night Before is released in Australian cinemas today