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Sunday, December 13, 2015

Movie Review- The Night Before

Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen, and Anthony Mackie, bring some funk to the festivities in, The Night Before


Introduction

Basing a film around a particular holiday especially Christmas, can be a risky bet. For most people, Christmas films stay on their December only watch lists and, you don't normally see them played on tv throughout the year (A Christmas Story, Home Alone, Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Jingle All the Way). There are some, however, that I can watch during any of the three-hundred and sixty-five non-leap year days (The Nightmare Before Christmas, Scrooged, Bad Santa). In full honesty, most of my picks are set during the holiday season and only have Christmas as a backdrop. Films like Gremlins, Lethal Weapon, Die Hard, Grumpy Old Men, The Long Kiss Goodnight, Enemy of the State, and Go, have a touch of that jolly old feeling but, stand on their own as well. Some of you may find seasonal films traditional, and I mostly agree still, I like anytime movies more. Just for the record; Friday After Next and Are We There Yet?, still suck and should not be on anybody's Christmas viewing list. Except maybe a shit list. Wasn't Ice Cube in both of those?

The Night Before

The Night Before is definitely a holiday season movie for... the season. It's filmed in New York City during Christmas, its drugs and parties are Christmas themed, and its slightly racist sweaters are very much Christmas. Deep down it's just another Seth Rogen (The Interview) comedy yet, it's got enough heart and humor to make you forgive its immaturities. It also has more than a few Die Hard and Home Alone references to remind us of Christmas movies of the past and temporarily ignite our nostalgia. It starts off with a smooth modern day version of The Night Before Christmas poem, narrated by Tracy Morgan (Cop Out). That would be fine but, it has a hint of the problems that are sprinkled throughout this movie. Are they big? No. However, those sprinkles keep The Night Before from reaching the status of becoming a holiday classic. This film should be a constant raunchfest of excess drug abuse, goofy horseplay, and more nude shots than that recent celebrity hacking scandal. It nonetheless gets bogged down by an unnecessary morality subplot and with not being able to close on most of the jokes. What I mean, is that this entire movie is funny with a whole lot of build up, yet it can't seal the deal by the time it gets to the punch line. It just fizzles and moves on to the next one. I do enjoy how hard everybody tries before that, though. Improvised or not, the humor's end games should have been better planned.
The trio of main characters played by Rogen, Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Don Jon), and Anthony Mackie (8 Mile), have a comfortable chemistry with each other that carries the entire film. You believe that these guys grew up together. The costars and cameo appearances are hit & miss. Michael Shannon (Man of Steel) plays a drug dealer that's so calm and creepy, that it brings out hilarity every time he shows up. Jillian Bell (22 Jump Street) as Rogen's wife, is a breath of fresh air that contradicts the typical disapproving wife that we see all the time in modern movies. She's supportive, funny, and overall cool. They have a relationship that's honest and refreshing. Mindy Kaling (The 40 Year-Old Virgin) who's usually pretty funny, comes off as an actor who's waiting for her counterpart to finish his/her lines before she can speak. Lizzy Caplain (Hot Tub Time Machine) as that ex-girlfriend who's always popping up, is fine, but I really can't recall anything special about her. Ilana Glazer (Broad City), James Franco (Pineapple Express), and shoot me in the face for saying this, Miley Cyrus (Hannah Monfreakintana), are part of the film's entertaining small roles. What blows my mind, is that Cyrus is better than she should've been. Of course, maybe that public perception of her being a daddy-issued hoebag that licks everything under the sun where it does and doesn't shine, is just for publicity more than anything? Franco man; every time that guy gets with Rogen, he just lets his freak flag fly and doesn't care what new line he can cross for himself. Worth mentioning is the two-minute appearance of Jason Mantzoukas (The League); Maybe my expectations are too high after seeing him on that show but, if he isn't going over the top crazy with his character, then I just can't enjoy seeing him do anything less.

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, of The Night Before

The Good- The dick pic text scenario, kinky bathroom sex with the Grinch, foul-mouthed hallucinogenic babies while trippin in church, and the "Christmas in Hollis" baby serenade.
The Bad- Dead Parents and steroid abuse, is no way to liven up a Christmas comedy.
The Ugly- Rogen is still funny, yet I can't help but fear that one day he and his films might become as bland and lifeless as Adam Sandler (Pixels). Especially after seeing some of this film's story problems.

Final Thoughts

The Night Before is worth a viewing. Just wait until it comes to home streaming before doing so. Because of its shortfalls, this film will never be considered a yearly go-to for holiday traditional repeat showings. On the bright side, at least, it's no Eight Crazy Nights or Fred Claus.
Rating- 6 out of 10

The Night Before

R | | Comedy | 20 November 2015 (USA) 

Director: Jonathan Levine           

Writers: Jonathan Levine (screenplay), Kyle Hunter (screenplay) |    

Stars: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen, Jillian Bell

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