Cinematic Releases: The Night Before

The holidays are upon us. Check out Mike's early review of The Night Before.

"We are your saviors. Bow down."
Director Jonathan Levine's 2011 film 50/50 brilliantly blended raunchy humor into the heartfelt tale of a young man's battle with cancer.  This year Levine has reunited with his 50/50 stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Seth Rogen, along with Anthony Mackie (8 Mile), to make the seasonal comedy The Night Before.  The trailers naturally played up all of the hilarious moments in the film, but fans of 50/50 who were hoping that it would retain that film's strong emotional core will definitely not be disappointed.

Fourteen years ago Ethan (Gordon-Levitt) lost his parents in a car crash, and has spent nearly every Christmas since with his best friends Isaac and Chris (Rogen and Mackie).  Though Isaac has a baby on the way and Chris is enjoying a suddenly resurgent football career, a Christmas miracle of sorts brings them back together for one last night of debauchery.  "One last wild night" is indeed a popular premise in R-rated comedies, but The Night Before's surprisingly grounded, believable characters and situations are what really make the film work on a different level than similar-themed films.  Even with all of the debauchery on screen, there is a very real emotional bond between these characters that is really what fuels the events of The Night Before.

The overall quality of The Night Before is truly impressive.  Each member of the excellent cast brings their A-game, and each performance is spot-on, from the leads on down to the numerous cameo players (keep an eye out for Michael Shannon).  The female roles are particularly well-done, with Lizzie Kaplan and Jillian Bell being the standouts.  The smart, crisp writing effortlessly balances the hilarity with some very strong, real emotions and makes it all look insanely easy.  Everything comes together flawlessly into one fun, well-paced, wildly entertaining movie.

"Man!!! All I wanted was a hooker
in a box!"
The Night Before is a heartwarming tale about the everlasting bonds of friendship that's filled with holiday spirit.  It's also a hilarious, raunchy, hard R-rated drug-fueled romp like we've come to expect from Seth Rogen and his buddies.  The movie proudly wears its ugly holiday sweater, showing its ever-present Christmas spirit while making you laugh at the insanity of it all, and of life in general.  The Night Before reverently pays tribute to decades of Christmas classics that came before it, while making an impressive case to be included among them.  It is not only easily the season's funniest movie, but one of the best comedies released this year, and the best holiday comedy since National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.  The Night Before is a gift to movie lovers that should keep on giving in the years to come.


-Mike Stec

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