From the same creative team behind 50/50 comes a very unique holiday comedy. A film about friendship, family and growing up in the big city… and possibly the wildest Christmas bender you'll ever see.
The Night Before tells the story of a young man named Ethan and his two friends Isaac and Chris, and a Christmas tradition that the three started after the death of Ethan's parents. The film stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen and Anthony Mackie. It was directed by Jonathan Levine, who found success in his last film Warm Bodies. Levine also co-writes the film alongside Evan Goldberg, Kyle Hunter, and Ariel Shaffir. Goldberg is the well known best friend/collaborator of Seth Rogen on many comedy films such as Superbad, Pineapple Express, This is The End, and most recently, The Interview. The majority of the Goldberg/Rogen films have been highly successful and critically acclaimed.
(Before I dive into it I would like to take this time to note there may be some spoilers ahead so continue at your own risk.)
Ethan (Gordon-Levitt) is a starving musician who seems to be held back in life due to a fear of change and being alone. 13 years ago, his parents had died on Christmas Eve. His best friends Isaac (Rogen) and Chris (Mackie) console him and promise to never let him spend another Christmas alone. Every year, the trio try to attend a White Whale party called The Nutcracker Ball, but can never find it. In the present time, Chris has found new fame as a football star and Isaac is about to become a father so the three decide to end the tradition after one final Christmas together. While at his job, Ethan obtains three invitations to The Nutcracker Ball and surprises his friends with them. Betsy (Jillian Bell), Isaac's wife, gives him a gift wrapped box full of drugs to help the night be more memorable.
The night starts off as it usually does but takes a few turns starting with Chris needing to procure some weed to impress one of his fellow athletes. The trio decide to call up their old high school drug dealer Mr. Green (Michael Shannon) who gives the guys a few words of wisdom as they set out on their Christmas journey. The three run into Ethan's ex-girlfriend Diana (Lizzy Caplan) and her coworker Sarah (Mindy Kaling). When they leave, Chris realizes their weed had been stolen forcing the guys to stop by his mother's apartment to meet up with Mr. Green a second time. While there Isaac realizes he has Sarah's phone and they set off again for the party. The group is robbed of their weed again by the same person. Chris breaks off to catch the thief while Isaac decides to use GPS to find his phone and Ethan is left by himself. The three eventually meet up at the subway and begin to confront each other about their individual issues. Then, they finally make their way to the party and separate. Ethan goes to find Diana, Isaac searches for Sarah to trade phones and Chris meets up with his teammates. Ethan runs into Miley Cyrus, who convinces him to propose to Diana. The two sing a duet together to get Diana's attention but after the proposal doesn't go the way Ethan had planned, Diana storms off. Ethan finds his way to the roof of the building where he runs into Mr. Green, who helps him to realize he needs to grow up. Meanwhile Isaac and Chris find themselves in a confrontation with Chris' teammates and the two are ejected from the building. The three reunite and talk about their friendship and then go off and fix their individual problems. The film ends a year later with everyone at Isaac and Betsy’s house celebrating Christmas.
Personally, I enjoyed this film, one reason being the very unique use of the Dickens theme between the trio throughout the film. Ethan can’t move forward because of something that happened in his “past”, Chris is too caught up in his “present” self and Isaac is afraid of his “future” as a father. This film is so hilarious and the jokes are non stop, as you would expect from a Point Grey production. Joseph Gordon Levitt’s performance is the perfect mixture of comedy and tragedy. Seth Rogen has made it his mission in this movie to have everyone in the audience leave with a split spleen. The supporting cast is equally funny as well, with Michael Shannon delivering a humorous grimace of a character in Mr. Green. Nathan Fielder, who plays the trio’s driver, kills it in every scene he is in.
Jillian Bell steps outside of the stereotypical "cynical wife of one of the friends" role that you usually find in buddy films to deliver a quirky, cute and supporting character who stands out on her own. The film is probably the best “Quest in the Alphabet City” comedy since 200 Cigarettes. This is definitely a must see film and I highly recommend it as you will not be disappointed.
Check out the trailer below and make sure to catch The Night Before in theaters now!