Hollywood has a new brat pack. Pretty much everyone who was in This is the End. But at the helm of this group are Seth Rogen and James Franco. And both guys I have a very complicated screen relationship with. Franco can do serious work and can impress as in films like 127 Hours, True Story and Wild Horses, but in other stuff I question if he can act at all. The same goes for Rogen, when he plays it straight he can be very good. He was excellent in Funny People and 50/50. But he seems to be so obsessed with playing characters who LOVE drugs it actually seems to get in the way of an actual acting career. In his new film, The Night Before, he tackles Christmas holidays with Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Anthony Mackie.
Isaac (Rogen), Ethan (Gordon-Levitt) and Chris (Mackie) are lifelong friends. Since the death of Ethan’s parents the three friends have made a tradition of a Christmas Eve reunion get together that usually consists of a night of debauchery and hilarity. But as they get older and start to go their separate ways, their tradition is coming to an end as they try to get into the elusive Nutcracka Ball, the holy grail of Christmas parties, and make their last party night one to remember.
The Night Before had so much potential to be one of those great comedies that was hilarious but also emotional and heartfelt. And while there are some genuinely funny moments and even some sincere moments, for the most part it descends into another drug riddled gross out comedy that is ultimately forgettable. Rogen is pretty much coasting through this one as for most of the screen time he is high (big surprise). Mackie gets the least amount of screen time and is decent and Gordon-Levitt is probably the best part of the movie, trying his best to elevate the material but ends up just buried beneath it. I was truly hoping that since writer/director Jonathan Levine was behind this one that he would bring some of the magic he had with his other films, The Wackness, 50/50 and Warm Bodies but for me it just never ended up gelling. The Night Before is alright for a time waster comedy and a few laughs but you might not want to revisit it afterwards or necessarily recommend it. And that’s a shame.