You should see “The Night Before”… today



Anthony Mackie, Seth Rogen and Joseph Gordon-Levitt in "The Night Before." (Sarah Shatz/Columbia Pictures/TNS)


From the Seth Rogan, Evan Goldberg and Johnathon Levine writing team that brought you “Superbad”, “Knocked Up”, “This Is the End” and “Neighbors”, comes another eccentric comedy that has a surprising amount of heart.

“The Night Before” stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Ethan, an orphan who lost his parents at a young age on Christmas Eve, prompting his two best friends, Isaac (Seth Rogan) and Chris (Anthony Mackie), to create the tradition of spending every subsequent Christmas Eve together.

But with Isaac becoming a father to be and Chris’s football stardom kicking off, the three decide to have one final Christmas Eve to beat them all. Hilarious hijinks and character development ensue as all three friends learn what growing up is truly about.

The most surprising thing about “The Night Before” (besides the multiple clever celebrity cameos) is the fact that it works as a good-spirited Christmas movie. It pokes fun at other clichés of the holiday movie genre, but at its core there is a genuine celebration of love and togetherness that Christmas can bring. That’s what makes “The Night Before” so enjoyable, there’s something to take away from it after the credits roll.

Another high point of the movie is the evenly-paced split narratives. Ethan, Isaac and Chris all have their own problems and goals they’re after as they engage in their night of revelry. The flow of the movie is smooth enough that each character arc is satisfying and fleshed out so that they get an equal chance to shine, both in humor and character development. But this movie is first and foremost a comedy.

It excels at the drug-fueled bromance humor that is typical of the Levine/Rogan/Goldberg writing team.  While raunchy jokes often happen, they are done in as good of taste as they can get and are never excessive or used to the point of exhaustion.

Admittedly, this film does have its faults. There are points during the second act where the pacing and narrative feels a bit unfocused. There was the suspicion that the film might come unraveled after such a promising start, but the third act brings all of the plot threads back together and makes for a refreshingly satisfying wrap up.

Overall, “The Night Before” is not the best effort of the Levine/Rogan/Goldberg trio, but it certainly is a solid work on its own.