Other than Christmas horror films, I’m not sure there is a concept less in the spirit of the season than this film. Well, the story itself isn’t too out there, but the heavy use of drugs and graphic nudity don’t really line up with the family friendly image Christmas films normally try to go for. But could that be a good thing? Everything else about this film seems promising, from the solid in front of and behind the camera talent that’s involved to the funny jokes we got to see in the trailer.
The Night Before is the story of three friends, Ethan (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), Isaac (Seth Rogen) and Chris (Anthony Mackie), who have spent every Christmas eve together for the last decade or so, and have a few traditions they have to stick to. Additionally, all three of the characters have personal issues that they’re struggling with, as Ethan can’t hold down a stable relationship, Isaac is one month away from having a baby, and Chris is starting to become a famous athlete in his 30’s, the time most professionals tend to retire.
This film is so smart. It parodies or at least references every single Christmas movie cliché you can think of, and more. Without wanting to ruin anything, there are some sub-plots that take so long to show which famous story they’re a parody of that they could’ve been the central premise of a separate film. These almost all paid off in a big way with huge laughs, which nicely contrasted against some of the more juvenile humour – something that’s often the sign of cheap writing, but here it works very well.
The three main actors really help make this film what it is, with each of them grabbing the audience and making us care about them within a very short space of time. The only slight downside to this film comes in the middle section, once the setup is finished, and the payoff is yet to come. Some of the antics aren’t quite as entertaining as others, and some of the smaller characters aren’t as interesting or funny as others, but this is really a minor gripe.
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