Some might say, "It's a little early to start rolling out the Christmas movies," but when it's a Seth Rogen stoner comedy with a stacked young cast and jokes which have clearly matured from his previous efforts, those people can pipe down because The Night Before could've come out any time of year and we all would've still laughed.
The Night Before is hitting theaters over a month before the big Christmas holiday which is the driving force of the film. Three best friends promise to never be apart on Christmas following the death of one's parents. However, as those of us who have grown up at all know, staying in touch with friends becomes more and more difficult as life hits you. The adulthood aspect of life is just one of the aspects of The Night Before which is pretty spot on and even features a flashback sequence to when iPods holding 100 songs was groundbreaking to really remind us of how our lives used to be.
Much like the characters of the The Night Before, Seth Rogen's writing and comedic efforts have matured. The crowd which appreciates his makeshift, sometimes cheap, situational one-liners highly packed into movies like Pineapple Express and This Is The End need not fear - they're stuffed in The Night Before like a snug Christmas stocking. That said, the scenarios are often improved and stakes are raised in The Night Before. At one point, Seth Rogen's Isaac is sporting a giant Jewish star for his annual Christmas Eve sweater pact and eventually finds himself tripping on drugs, trapped in a church with his pregnant wife and her entire family, all the while trying to contain an urge to blow chunks. Hallelujah, it was outrageously funny.
It's not all about Rogen, though. The trio is hilarious and Anthony Mackie definitely knows where the funny bone is. Toss in with Joseph Gordon-Levitt's mopey but often hilarious character, who has the largest emotional arc in the film, and you just have a recipe for success. Who doesn't love all three of these actors? Throw them on the screen, watch them sing karaoke, dance and play Kanye West songs on a giant piano, and scream out clever product placements... You'll want to grab your best friends and go straight to a bar in a sure-to-fail attempt at having as much fun as they are.
The overarching plot of the film isn't as realistic as it could have been as the three best friends continue a 15-year journey to find The Nutcracker Ball, the most epic Christmas party of all-time, but it's nowhere near as ridiculous as This Is The End and certainly more grounded than last year's The Interview. It's closer to in comparison to Neighbors but doesn't need to be compared, seeing as it brings the added character layers with some more mature, yet still at times raunchy, humor.
Character layers aren't why any of us will buy a ticket to The Night Before but they're what make it stand out from previous Rogen productions. The aforementioned Gordon-Levitt arc plays nicely with Mackie's Chris Roberts, often dubbed "C. Rob," who is struggling with using PEDs which propelled him to fame and fortune and Isaac's inner struggle over becoming a father. There's a surprising layer of emotion in a film which you typically wouldn't expect to find reasonable character development. Still, it's the humor which makes The Night Before most memorable.
A handful of cameos, none of which will be spoiled here, put the final polish on The Night Before. Some come off as a little silly but none are unacceptable or wasted like they were in Entourage. Each has a payoff in The Night Before, though some are admittedly larger than others.
Bottom Line: If Pineapple Express and This Is The End had a baby, and that baby grew up to more mature and smarter than its parents while never forgetting where it came from, that baby would be named The Night Before. 8.5/10