THE NIGHT BEFORE Review

the night before poster

Director: Jonathan Levinne

Genre: Holiday Comedy

Release: 2015

After a year-long terrorism-induced hiatus, stoner comedy wunderkind Seth Rogen returns to the screen in THE NIGHT BEFORE to continue portraying an unprepared first time father.  Though it seems like an ensemble comedy about three long-time friends finding a legendary Christmas party, let it be known that this is Seth Rogen’s picture, his personal FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS; his manic drugged out misadventures through Upper Manhattan rank among the best moments of the actor’s entire career (a scene involving sexting at the dinner table is one of several notable all-timers).  However, Rogen’s arc breaks no new boundaries, retreading familiar Apatowian themes, making it clear that this is a film on autopilot.  This is a film cobbled together after its writers decided “Hey, why don’t we make a Christmas movie?”  It is so informed by the tropes of the genre that it struggles to generate any original energy.

the night before star of david of the show

Star (of David) of the show

THE NIGHT BEFORE feels like a vulgar remake of a 1930s early sound comedy.  The staples are all here: flat, obligatory romantic subplot (the ever charismatic Joseph Gordon-Levitt elevates a limp love story with the woefully underused Lizzy Caplan), main characters’ identities and occupations being nothing more than titles/labels (Rogen is the dad, Levitt is the slacker, and a surprisingly game and in-his-element Anthony Mackie is the celebrity), and a geared focus on goofy, logic-bending jokes on jokes on jokes.  It’s funny!  But it’s no THIS IS THE END. Or THE INTERVIEW.

THE NIGHT BEFORE is three drafts away from being an annual tradition.

The aforementioned Mackie gets a potentially fascinating subplot regarding his place in the NFL and his deification in the community that’s spearheaded by a lovely Lorraine Toussaint, but it gets juked out by a 40-minute chase for stolen weed.  We’re told how much these characters are being affected, but the drama is notably missing: there’s a major flashback that  contextualizes the whole film that comes too late and is executed with mediocrity, what with some intensely award “facing out” staging.  But its cast, wacky supporting cameos and all, are so endearingly game that it’s hard to walk away entirely dissatisfied.  Starring no one under the age of 30, THE NIGHT BEFORE is a quiet statement on perpetual adolescence in the age of millennials, and how it may not be quite the societal downfall our think pieces make it out to be.

See, it’s fine.  And that’s the most frustrating part. THE NIGHT BEFORE is three drafts away from being an annual tradition.

Verdict: Do Not Recommend

Deserted in a video store as an infant, Kevin was raised on Fulci, Tarantino, Kubrick, and Whoppers. Now he's a junior film production major at Chapman University who acts as guest contributor for Crossfader on the side: what a success story.

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