The Night Before

Year: 2015
Director: Jonathan Levine
Starring: Seth Rogen, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Anthony Mackie
Written by Andrew Garrison
Edited by Jakob Lewis Barnes

Going into this film I had high hopes. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is an incredible actor, and I think Anthony Mackie is a rising star. Put these two together, and throw in the goofy but likeable Seth Rogen, and you have an interesting cast for a comedy. And with Jonathan Levine – the director of ‘50/50’ and ‘Warm Bodies’ – at the helm, along with the writing crew that helped bring you ‘Superbad’, ‘Pineapple Express’, ‘This Is The End’ and ‘The Interview’ (notice a Seth Rogen shaped theme here?), I was more than excited to see what they came up with next.

What was the last great comedy? Perhaps ‘Blazing Saddles’ of 1974, or ‘Airplane’ in 1980? Oh, and ‘There’s Something About Mary’ was maybe what you would define as a “great comedy. More recently, ‘The Hangover’ is as close as we have got really. These films are often deemed as some of the funniest of the last few decades. What do these films have in common? Answer – they push limits, they get in your face and they’re delightfully offensive. There are going to be people who think these movies are “sick” and “prejudiced” in all sorts of ways, but yet they stand as some of the greatest ever.  To me, comedy can be high class; using wordplay, awkward situations and the like, but it’s perfectly fine to go all-out offensive; to make people uneasy and uncomfortable. ‘The Night Before’ brings that style of offensive comedy with it. If you find yourself watching this film and can’t handle the atrocities of its tongue-in-cheek humour, there’s a simple solution – go home. Better still, assess your compatibility with Seth Rogen and the gang beforehand, and don’t pay money to see something you’re more than likely going to complain about.

Another warning: this movie is a stoner comedy, which means there’s plenty of jokes about drugs and getting high. If you aren’t into that kind of humor, stay clear of this movie because it is overloaded with that type of thing, but what did you expect from Seth Rogen? Personally, I don’t get into drinking heavily or doing any sort of drugs, having witnessed the devastating dangers and consequences of such things. This movie plays on that a lot to make comedy and I knew that going in. At times, it bothered me, but for the most part it had me laughing. This movie pushes some limits with its offensive comedy relating to Christianity, drug use, homosexuality and alcoholism. However, the story is rather predictable; you know how this movie is going to play out when it starts and sure enough it chugs along that familiar road. The story centres around three best friends, Ethan (Gordon-Levitt), Isaac (Rogen) and Chris (Mackie), who decide to have the most glorious guys-night-out ever to fulfil their Christmas Eve tradition perfectly before their lives change completely.

I found the acting in the movie to be quite good. Seth Rogen plays the guy who gets stoned and wasted out of his mind. It’s the caricature of Seth Rogen, which is what he always does but often does it very well. Anthony Mackie is believable as the entitled NFL athlete with a fun side. But the most impressive actor was once again Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who nails his role as the troubled friend. Gordon-Levitt is so versatile and talented, going from a historical drama like ‘The Walk’, to a crazy comedy like ‘The Night Before’ in the same year is quite impressive. You get to see him do good work at both ends of the spectrum and I liked that. There are also several cameos in the film and they are all excellent. Particularly uplifting was the one at the very end, so look out for that. 

At the core of this film is a heartfelt story of friendship, about three guys who are ultimately always there for one another. With each of them having serious life issues they must confront, the others always offer support and I really liked that aspect of the film, giving it some much needed heart. This movie will probably end up being the funniest film of the year – unless Will Ferrell and/or Tina Fey really impress this Christmas with their movies. This film isn’t as hilarious or original as ‘This Is The End’, but I personally found it to be much funnier than ‘The Interview’.

Besides its few flaws, I really enjoyed the film. It provided me with plenty of laughs as a sober audience member, and perhaps for others who are not of “sound mind” shall we say, it will definitely be even more hilarious. That’s not a guarantee, and I’m not about to test it out, but if you like raunchy jokes and plenty of drug humour, trust me, this is a film for you.

Andrew’s rating: 7.5 out of 10