With a cast like Seth Rogen, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Anthony Mackie, you just know this movie had the potential to go either way.
But we’re about due for a new raunchy Christmas classic and thankfully, writer and director Jonathan Levine’s THE NIGHT BEFORE more than satisfies. Sure to become a new annual holiday must-see for many (at least after the kids go to bed), Rogen’s funnier than he’s been in recent memory and Gordon-Levitt offers a great balance to some of his more ridiculous antics. There’s even the occasional “aw” moment tucked in amongst all the drugs, sex and “the Jews killed the Messiah” jokes.
Rogen, Gordon-Levitt and Mackie are, respectively, Isaac, Ethan and Chris, longtime friends who cemented an annual tradition 14 years ago when Ethan’s parents passed away and he was left to fend for himself over the holidays. Refusing to leave their buddy to wallow in his misery, Isaac and Chris dragged him out to enjoy the most wonderful time of the year. And they’ve all donned tacky festive sweaters (Isaac’s naturally boasting an enormous Star of David front and center and Chris’, a black Santa) and visited the same dive-y karaoke bar in New York City every year since. But they’ve always been in search of more – the secret Nutcracker Ball, also known as the “Holy Grail” of holiday celebrations. Access to this mysterious party of all parties has always eluded the three men, but on this, their last night together as Isaac is perched on the cusp of fatherhood and Chris’ fame as a professional athlete grows, Ethan finally comes across three (how convenient) tickets.
THE NIGHT BEFORE has all the crude, irreverent humour you would expect and even more of the hilarity (although perhaps a bit too much karaoke). Occasional moments definitely fall flat, but overall it’s a whole lot of fun – not least of all because of its supporting cast. Besides the usual array of cameo appearances (no spoilers here), the movie features Lizzy Caplan, Jillian Bell, and Mindy Kaling, as well as Michael Shannon in a positively glorious role.
Jewish, Christian, atheist…there is surely something here to offend everyone. It’s destined to be a holiday classic.
THE NIGHT BEFORE opens in theatres Friday, November 20, with special showings starting at 7:00pm on Thursday, November 19.