On Christmas eve, three lifelong friends spend the night in New York City looking for the Holy Grail of Christmas parties.
Running Time: 1hr 41min
MPAA Rating: R
It’s A Wonderful Life’ meets ‘Pineapple Express’ in this stoner Christmas comedy.
by Tom Glasson
Seth Rogen on drugs. It’s as predictable a filmic theme these days as lens flares from J.J. or bleeding penises from Lars Von Trier. Good news is, if you’re into that sort of thing (Rogen, not the…blood), then his latest flick The Night Before should keep you sufficiently chuckling from go to woe.
Rogen’s in wildly familiar territory here, spending almost the entirety of the movie completely off his nut. Joined by his 50/50 co-star Joseph Gordon-Levitt and The Avengers’ Anthony Mackie, The Night Before is like a prequel to The Hangover; a tale of three friends embarking upon the final run of their decade-long Christmas Eve partying tradition. Heavy drinking, karaoke, Chinese food and a search for the infamous yet illusive ‘Nutcracker Ball’ form the chapters of this quirky, crass film by director Jonathan Levine (Warm Bodies), and while there’s very little new material here, those ‘under the influence’ staples are handled with an assured touch.
The Night Before also boasts an extensive supporting cast, with amusing appearances from Mindy Kaling, Lizzy Caplan, Tracey Morgan, Jillian Bell, James Franco, Iliana Glazer, Miley Cyrus and – best of all – Michael Shannon as the philosophical drug dealer Mr Green. Shannon’s character is as trippy as the visions he facilitates for his customers, but it’s a fine performance that lends the film a touch of otherwise absent class.
Predictably, there’s not much of a plot to speak of, and what little there is suffers from more than a few glaring inconsistencies – most notably Rogen’s heavily pregnant wife (Bell) playing both facilitator and chief critic of his yuletide drug binge. Still, story is rarely what beckons audiences to this genre, and the over-the-top set pieces do deliver a solid stream of pop culture nostalgia, stoner gags and crude one-liners to keep you chuckling throughout.