Director Jonathan Levine has reunited with his 50/50 stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Seth Rogen for the Christmas buddy stoner flick, The Night Before. Co-starring 22 Jump Street’s Jillian Bell, Lizzy Caplan, Michael Shannon and, making up the BFF trio, Avengers’ Anthony Mackie, with Rogen’s creative partner Evan Goldberg on screenplay duty, it’s one hell of a psychedelic Crimbo blowout.
Best buds Ethan (Gordon-Levitt), Isaac (Rogen) and Chris (Mackie) have followed the same Christmas tradition for the past decade: a long night of karaoke singing and Chinese food-eating debauchery whilst in search for the “holy grail” of Xmas Eve shindigs – the Nutcracka Ball.
Though with their lives now pulling firmly in opposite directions – Isaac the future father, Chris the famous athlete and Ethan, still struggling with his wounded past – it’s been decided that this will be the final year of their long-standing party-hard festive arrangement. There’s one upside though: the latter’s managed to snag three tickets to the much-sought after ball.
With weed-stealing man-eaters (Ilana Glazer), former flames (Caplan) and creepily philosophical drug dealers (Shannon) stepping in and out of their festive blow-out, the journey to the party-of-all-parties is unsurprisingly eventful.
The Night Before is yet another easily forgettable, but occasionally laughter-inducing, Christmas-tinted stoner comedy from the exact people (Rogen and Goldberg) you’d expect it to be from – with a James Franco it’s-supposed-to-be-funny- cos-people-think-I’m-gay-but-I’m-not cameo thrown in for good measure.
Its scatter-gun approach to comedy means a few decent gags slap you in the face with vehement smile-inducing force – and when they do, to Levine and co.’s credit, they’re definitely LOL (Levitt’s elf face, Miley Cyrus’s alternative rendition of Wrecking Ball).
The Night Before is at its energetic best when it’s musical, and a complete mess thereafter; underneath the pot smoking, sex gags and the expected I’m-Jewish- and-I-know-it references, there’s a been-there-got-the-generic-buddy-flick-comedy sentimentality (love, loss and friendship) that runs through its drug-addled veins which is so half-baked the weed smoke must have sent the script into trippy limbo.
Amongst the attempted ironic product placements and Rogen’s box of “all the drugs in the world”, this Christmas caper – occasionally funny, often boring – splatters its whole load of drug references and sentimental clichés at a broad, unhinged canvas to produce a kind-of-watchable, weed-ish spectacle.