Review: ‘The Night Before’ Is Fun but May Have Stretched Itself Too Thin

 

 
Overview
 

Direction
6.0


 
Acting
7.0


 
Plot
7.0


 
Execution
6.0


 
Total Score
6.5


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Posted November 27, 2015 by

 
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From now until the last time he steps on a set, Seth Rogen will always have to deal with fans judging his movies based on the ones he has already released. Was this one funnier than ‘This Is the End’, or ‘Pineapple Express’? Did I like it more than ‘Superbad’? Questions like this will always be asked when someone who watches his latest release is trying to figure out where to place this one on the totem pole of his comedic output. While this isn’t always fair, it’s just the way it is when you make audiences laugh as hard as you have and they come into the theater with high expectations to get even crazier moments than the last. What I like though is that the writing team behind most of his movies, and Rogen himself, are not content to just give you the same thing over-and-over. In fact, we obviously don’t want that as proof by Adam Sandler’s career. With each new installment into this “Rogen-Franco-Goldberg” universe, the characters on screen still have moments of what made us originally love them,  but they’re also growing up with us and adding more complex and adult storylines into their comedy. This tempers the opportunity for crazy moments, but also makes the comedy more relatable and the characters more authentic feeling. That may not be what you’re looking for though.

In ‘The Night Before’, Ethan, Isaac, and Chris (Levitt, Rogen, and Mackie) go out every Christmas Eve in order to celebrate life after Ethan’s parents lost theirs. It works as a great excuse to go out and get hammered and party big, but it also serves as a way to take Ethan’s mind off of the tragic loss he suffered. Now that they’re growing older, the tradition is beginning to lose its charm for Isaac and Chris, but Ethan still seems dead-set on not losing this new family he has created and continuing their tradition of debauchery. All agreeing that this will be the last year they do this, the boys decide to go big…and then go home. There are no rules, there is no supervision; it’s the perfect excuse to do everything one last time.

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Isaac’s wife is pregnant and she realizes that he has been nothing but a great soon-to-be-father. She sends him to the party with a box full of drugs that she bought off Craigslist. Ethan has been drunk all day ever since he found tickets to the most elusive party while working as a coat checker and then quit his joyless job. Chris is a superstar football player. He’s the new face of Redbull, his social networking is on point, and he’s doing it all in his mid-thirties. Now that they’re all together and set loose upon New York City, their real life responsibilities keep butting into their crazy night of partying and creating hilarious moments, awkward encounters, and a bunch of callbacks to past Christmas movies.

There are awesome cameos that pop up throughout the film in order to keep the story rolling: Ilana Glazer plays the Grinch while modeling her holiday actions after the Sticky Bandits from Home Alone 2, Michael Shannon delivers a hilarious performance as the drug dealer from Christmas past, present and future, and James Franco plays the love interest for Mindy Kaling while also having a thing for Seth Rogen’s character (these scenes offer the hardest laughs in the film). While these were pleasant surprises, the scenes that had the most potential to make me laugh were actually shown in the trailer that was released long before the movie came out. People like to say, “All the funny parts were in the trailer” but that’s never really the case; it’s just that a majority of the comedic storylines were tackled in the trailer and since they stretch out through the whole film, a lot of parts didn’t hold the same weight because I already knew what to expect. On top of that, the storylines that were supposed to hold emotional weight didn’t really do much for me because the drama wasn’t as strong or captivating as the comedy. Lizzy Caplan plays Ethan’s ex-girlfriend (the perfect one that he let get away) and while they set up the formulaic ‘will they or won’t they?’ story, I found myself not really caring if they did or not. It seemed to be there in order to get Miley Cyrus and more karaoke into the movie. I understand that your characters have to have arcs – they have to start from one point and end up at another in order to show growth – it just didn’t keep me interested over the 100-minute playing time.

Don’t go into this movie trying to compare it to the others they’ve put out recently. Watch it for what it is, get some good laughs, and wait for the next film to be released. ‘The Night Before’ is a depiction of what would happen to most of us in our thirties if we tried to go partying as hard as we could while also juggling an adult life; it’s a funny film that will now be added to the Holiday classics.

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DavidRyanM

 


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