Anthony Mackie

Anthony Mackie

Reel Reviews: Film serves up an egg nog hangover

Taylor and Howe say, The Night Before is "a younger man’s Hangover.”

  • Nov. 27, 2015 6:00 a.m.

Ten years ago, Ethan (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) lost both his parents at Christmas time. His friends, Isaac (Seth Rogen) and Chris (Anthony Mackie), spent that Christmas Eve with him, creating a crazy night painting the Big Apple red.

On this fateful eve, they first heard of the Nutcracker Ball, the most famous of all New York Christmas parties.

Tonight, what became a traditional evening of debauchery for the three friends, is going to be their last, as one of them is starting a family and another is a famous football player.

When Ethan gets three tickets to the Nutcracker Ball, at least the three know they will go out with a bang in The Night Before.

We say, “It’s a younger man’s Hangover.”

HOWE: Watch the trailer and save yourselves $12 to put towards Christmas presents for the family. I’m not saying The Night Before isn’t a good movie, it’s just that for a comedy, the laughs are few and far between.

The whole movie feels so-so. The acting is semi-decent; the jokes are not that funny (except when Rogen gets on a roll). The storyline is a little wishy-washy. Tell me, Mr. Taylor, after this performance are you still going to defend Gordon-Levitt as a better actor than Keanu Reeves?

TAYLOR: Give it a rest. Gordon-Levitt might be a bit embarrassingly old to be portraying a guy just getting his act together, but I’ll cut him some slack, this is a Seth Rogen movie after all.

I thought Rogen was brilliant in this film. His performance required him to act whacked out of his mind on various drugs. I’m not being sarcastic, or overly generous, at times he looked insane. I also really liked the Dickens-esque Christmas drug dealer character Mr. Green, played by Michael Shannon with his usual quiet intensity.

HOWE: Mr. Green was probably the highlight of the entire film. I loved the way he would just pop out of nowhere and deliver his speeches. On the other hand, I found it very slow moving in parts and dragging on towards the end. Then I couldn’t wait for it to end.

TAYLOR: That’s the thing, even though I liked this more than Love the Coopers, it’s likely to score the same. Similarly, too many times in this film did I think, “Yeah, yeah. Get on with it,” which is never a good sign. At least The Night Before has a frantic, drug-fuelled pace to keep us awake.

This is not necessarily a stoner movie, it’s really only Rogen’s character imbibing, but I do think it’s a young person’s movie. It didn’t make me laugh, but I smiled occasionally and enjoyed some of the shenanigans. Of course everything wraps up tidy.

HOWE: Love the Coopers is the better film out of the two, but perhaps I’m starting to show my age with my film preference?

TAYLOR: I hear you. Statler and Waldorf, signing off.

– Taylor gives The Night Before 2.5 rocks out of 5.

– Howe gives it 2 staffs out of 5.

Brian Taylor and Peter Howe write about the latest movies for The Morning Star every Friday and Sunday.