Warning: This film is rated R.
Seth Rogen vehicles have been an almost annual event since 2013, and every year they seem to decline in quality just a little bit. This is the End was widely regarded to be great, Neighbors was thought to be good, and the Interview is just kinda bad. His contribution to cinema this year is a christmas movie called The Night Before, which serves to subvert the current Seth Rogen movie trend. It is hilarious, enjoyable, and surprisingly heartfelt.
The Night Before follows three best friends Ethan (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), Isaac (Seth Rogen), and Chris (Anthony Mackie) as they spend the night before christmas together, per tradition, with the ultimate goal to attend the greatest party ever, the nutcracker ball. The tradition started years before, when Ethan’s parents died in a car crash leaving him alone on Christmas Eve, until Chris and Isaac came and cheered him up. This year, however, is the last year for the tradition; both Chris and Isaac have moved on and have different things to worry about, one with a family and the other with a sports career.
First and foremost, a comedy ought to be funny, otherwise it’s pretty pointless. This premise leaves a lot of room for hilarity, and delivers fairly well on that promise. Most every scene is funny and had me laughing heartily.
The actors all do well in their roles, delivering their lines with great comic timing. The group’s pot dealer, Mr. Green (Michael Shannon), is a surprisingly wonderful character. He’s unexpectedly funny and welcomely relatable.
Funny movies are not uncommon, released it seems almost every week. Neither are comedies with good actors. Christmas movies are also numerous, it seems ten or twenty are released every year. The Night Before isn’t just like all of these other movies though. It is better than most, unique and defined in an oversaturated field. What elevates it and truly cements it as an annual Christmas movie, a movie that friends will watch together for years to come, is the heart behind it.
More than a stupid stoner comedy, or a throwaway Christmas movie, The Night Before is a story about friendship. The pain Ethan feels throughout the movie is real and tangible. The emotions are legitimately affecting. It’s a movie about moving on while still maintaining a connection. There were moments that I started to tear up (although it might be because I’m a bit soft). People will go see it for the jokes, and see it again for the heart.
Are there better Christmas movies? Of course. Not everything works in the film, but all of the problems fade away next to the great moments and great jokes scattered around it. I suspect it will quickly become a Christmas classic.
Check out more Seth Rogan films here!
Image Credit: Taminator on Flickr.