Crude and crass but a lot less mean-spirited than holiday peer Love the Coopers, The Night Before follows three pals—Ethan (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), Isaac (Seth Rogen) and Chris (Anthony Mackie)—on their final Christmas bacchanalia. Isaac is about to be a dad, and Chris, a football star, is just too famous; only the orphaned Ethan has failed to truly grow up.
As directed by Jonathan Levine (the excellent and underrated 50/50) and written by a lot of dudes (including Rogen’s Superbad/Pineapple Express/This Is the End collaborator Evan Goldberg), The Night Before has all the holiday spirit and lots of laughs, to boot. Rogen gets in some excellent physical comedy as Isaac takes a cornucopia of illegal drugs.
Not even the obligatory friendly fight everyone sees coming can ruin this gift. Welcome appearances by “Workaholics”’ Jillian Bell, Lizzy Caplan (having more age-appropriate fun than she does on Showtime’s “Masters of Sex”), Michael Shannon and some surprises spike this delicious cinematic eggnog. The Night Before proves holiday comedies can celebrate the season without resorting to sentimental sap or holiday hate. A little karaoke “Christmas In Hollis” never hurts.
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