By Nate Willis, Entertainment Writer
In only his fifth directorial feature, director Jonathan Levine tries his hand at the often-overused Christmas comedy genre. The film stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen, and Anthony Mackie as three 30-something friends who have managed to grow apart without growing up. With adulthood causing the three friends to rethink their friendship, they decide to spend one last Christmas Eve evening together. Levine has worked with Rogen and Gordon-Levitt before when he directed “50/50,” and with the producers of Rogen flicks like “This is the End” and “The Interview” on board, you pretty much know exactly what to expect going into the theater. That being said, this film feels oddly fresh in a genre so overplayed and so specific.
If you’re a fan of Seth Rogen, there’s a high chance you’re a fan of watching Seth Rogen do copious amounts of drugs and act ridiculous. Rogen didn’t do any writing with this project as he did with “The Interview” and “This is the End”, but the retainment of the core team that’s worked on those films causes “The Night Before” to have the same charm. This particular kind of humor bodes well for a Christmas comedy. The reason Rogen has been able to be so successful is because he’s developed his own brand of original comedy. While his brand of comic relief may come across as offensive to more traditional audiences, his talent of making the same humor feel original and different in every film he’s made is impressive in-and-of itself.
“The Night Before” is filled with references to holiday films like “Home Alone,” “The Grinch,” “Die Hard,” and “It’s a Wonderful Life”. Usually references have the “inclusion” effect, in that they’re put in there so the film feels like it’s the same or at least heavily influenced by the film it’s referencing. The opposite is true for “The Night Before”. Levine, Rogen, and their writers are able to make this film still feel like a Rogen movie, but also very much a different kind of Christmas movie.
Rogen’s films are millennials’ films. The 18-39 age group is the largest frequent movie-going demographic, which would explain why Rogen’s been so successful, financially speaking, with every one of his films. The chemistry between the three leads never feels forced, and the cameos, though they’re inherently forced, are funny enough that you don’t mind it when Miley Cyrus randomly appears and sings a song with JGL.
Overall, I would recommend this film to anyone under the age of 35. I think the overbearing drug usage, profanity, and raunchiness throughout would come across as immature to older audiences. If you enjoyed “The Interview,” “This is the End,” or “Neighbors,” I think you would like it.
Nate’s Netflix Picks:
- Bad Santa
- The Interview
- Beasts of No Nation