After his parents died just before Christmas, Ethan (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is left with only his friends Isaac (Seth Rogen) and Chris (Anthony Mackie) as his family. To help take his mind off the tragedy, Isaac and Chris take Ethan out for a night of drinking, and maybe some pot. While they are out, they hear about the Nutcracker Ball. The ball is a party of epic proportions with drinks and drugs and everything they are looking for. The trio start a tradition of going out on Christmas. However, they have never been able to find the elusive Nutcracker Ball.
After 14 years, Isaac and Chris are ready to end the tradition. Isaac is now married and expecting his first child. Chris has suddenly made it big in the NFL and is dealing with his new-found fame. Ethan hasn’t changed much. He still works dead-end jobs, never making it into the music scene. And he lost the woman he should have married.
Just before what is to be their last outing, Ethan happens upon 3 tickets to the Nutcracker Ball. Ethan, Chris, and Isaac head out to complete their tradition and finally make it to the ball. If they can make it to the party, they are sure to have the night of their lives.
To be honest, after seeing the trailer for The Night Before, I was a little hesitant. This is a concept that could easily go very wrong. First off, this is kind of an odd trio. We’ve seen Seth Rogen high before with mixed results. However, given that Joseph Gordon-Levitt doesn’t do bad movies, and Seth Rogen does have his moments of movie gold, I held out a little hope. To say I was pleasantly surprised is an understatement.
I’ll say it again, JGL does not do bad movies. He exudes suave and charm in everything he does. You can’t help but love his down-on-his-luck Ethan. Sure, he’s made some bad choices, but he obviously has a lot to deal with. Seth Rogen is at his absolute best in this movie. Thanks to a box of drugs, he is high on something the entire movie. This is something we’ve seen many, many times, so it would be easy for this to be just a rehash (no pun intended) of “typical” Seth. Thankfully, between a good script and Seth giving it his best, it works exceptionally well. He will have you laughing the entire movie. Anthony Mackie, while maybe not quite on the same level, holds his own with JGL and Seth. The supporting cast is just as good. There are a couple of hilarious surprise cameos, but I won’t spoil those for you.
The movie is more than Seth Rogen stumbling his way through the streets while high. While the majority of the comedy comes from Seth, there is plenty from everyone. On top of that, the film has heart, too. The friends have to learn how to deal with growing up, growing responsibilities, and growing apart.
The Night Before is marketed as “the funniest Christmas movie ever.” It lives up to that promise. Sure, the crude humor may not be for everyone, but it is definitely better than other Christmas “comedies” that may try to compete with it. I will be seeing this one again.