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The Night Before: Movie Review

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We all know that people love Christmas movies – whether they be heart-felt dramas, satirical comedies, or even more in the genre of action/horror. I, personally have my own that I somehow manage to see nearly every holiday season: It’s a Wonderful Life, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Nightmare Before Christmas, and a handful of others. Whatever your flavor, there’s usually something for everyone to enjoy, whether you’re a Santa-loving grandma, or a modern-day teenage scrooge. Now imagine tossing all of these genres into a blender, add a heaping scoop of fart humor, and a dash of homages to some of our favorite holiday classics… oh, and just a pinch of story; and you’ll end up with The Night Before, starring Seth Rogen, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Anthony Mackie – along with a few perfectly-timed cameos.TNB-2

In some manner, one might notice that the three leading actors playing Ethan, Isaac and Chris (Levitt, Rogen, Mackie) were perfectly type-cast for their character. Rogen is known for his high-octane body humor and control over facial expression; where Levitt has a history of ranging his roles from comedy, to action, to heart-breaking drama; and Mackie has typically landed bad-boy action roles. In The Night Before it becomes immediately apparent why these actors were chosen for their character, and the chemistry between them is hilarious.

 

Ethan, Isaac and Chris have a Christmas tradition. One that they started years ago when Ethan’s parents died. Each year, they get drunk, go sing karaoke, eat Chinese food… and dream about one year finally finding a way to attend the most epic of all Christmas parties that’s so secretive, they don’t even know where it happens. As the trio rendezvous on this, the last time they’ll carry out their yearly tradition, Isaac’s wife Betsy (Jillian Bell) gives him what any other pregnant, loving wife would before her husband heads for an all out rumpus night with his friends – a tiny box filled with a smorgasbord of different types of illegal drugs; hallucinogens, and all! Because, why not?! Ethan prefers to stick with liquor, and Chris (being a professional athlete) can’t afford to be caught with anything showing up in blood tests. What Ethan hasn’t mentioned to the others is that he’s got a surprise; one that will make their adventurous evening truly unforgettable.

 

TNB-3Be forewarned, kids – The Night Before is not for the easily-offended. It’s rated R for some fairly significant reason; like your typical use of fowl language, frontal nudity and the usual sex scene… and portrayals of excessive drug use. Think The Hangover meeting Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. And make no mistake – no matter how uncomfortable some of the jokes may be, they’ll most likely have you laughing so hard that you start crying. Between all of the humorous banter and insane interactions with secondary archetypes reminiscent of It’s a Wonderful LifeHome Alone and Dr Seuss’ The Grinch, there seems to be little room for much character development… but then, how much can realistically happen in only one night. As the night progresses, and the trio moves throughout the city, reliving old memories, making amends with old friends, and finally working up the nerve to confront each other about their faults, one thing becomes slowly apparent – Christmas miracles don’t only happen for the most saintly of people. Miracles can happen for anyone, as long as your open to them.

If you’ve seen This is The End or Interview – both starring Seth Rogen – then you know what you’re in for with The Night Before. Just don’t take grandma & grandpa out to this one without knowing beforehand that they can handle this type of next-level humor.

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The Night Before
Director:  Johnathan Levine
Studio:  Sony Pictures
Genre: Comedy
MPAA: R
Release Date:  November 20th, 2015
Author:  Carleton Starr

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