‘Tis the season to be festive and it doesn’t get more celebratory than The Night Before, the latest comedy from Jonathan Levine.
Starring Seth Rogen, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Anthony Mackie, The Night Before follows three lifelong best friends who have gathered together in New York City for their annual evening of Christmas Eve debauchery. With their yearly reunion set to end, they set out to find the Holy Grail of Christmas parties. Here’s five reasons to watch:
- The heartfelt story
At the core of The Night Before is a surprisingly heartfelt story of three friends who appear to be heading in very different directions, and must find a way to deal with their respective fears in order to save their friendship. Rogen’s Isaac is a lawyer and married man with a baby on the way, and while he’s all confidence as his wife’s “rock”, this image quickly begins to crumble as he reveals his deep-seated fears about being a horrible father. Mackie plays Chris, a pro football player who actively avoids his mother and aims to please his unpleasant teammates rather than invest in saving his oldest friendships. Then we have Gordon-Levitt’s Ethan, who is the least grown up of the trio, blaming his inability to move on with life on the tragic death of his parents years ago. While The Night Before is a comedy, these underlying dramatic stories offer something more exciting to watch, ensuring the audience are invested in seeing the Three Kings overcome their respective issues.
- Outrageous cameos
I don’t even know where to start here. While the three leads provide plenty of laugh-out-loud moments, it’s the epic cameos from major celebs that make this film so memorable. Miley Cyrus appears as herself at the Nutcracker Ball that the guys attend towards the film’s third act. She’s sharp, witty and proves to be the ultimate trooper in making fun of herself, particularly when she jokingly tells Ethan to call her Hannah rather than Miley Cyrus. More shocking however is James Franco’s surprise appearance as the man who was sending Mindy Kailing’s character dick pics, and subsequently hits on Isaac. Rounding out the cameos is Tracy Morgan, who narrates the film’s beginning and closing sequences, playing a sort of Santa Claus-type. While his role is limited, simply hearing that instantly recognisable voice is a comfort.
- Epic comedic performances from the ladies
Plain and simple fact: Jillian Bell is one to watch. Following her hilarious turn in 22 Jump Street, Bell is perfectly cast in The Night Before as Betsy, Isaac’s pregnant wife. Whether dealing with her husband’s puke-tastic appearance in a church, or featuring in a strip club dream and using the term “pop that pussy” multiple times, Bell proves she has the comedic timing and acting chops to rival any of her co-stars. Mindy Kailing also co-stars as Sarah, a colleague of Betsy and friend of Lizzy Caplan’s Diana (Ethan’s ex-girlfriend). As per usual, Kailing is on point and really lights up every scene she appears in.
- Michael Shannon’s Christmas angel
When the boys find themselves in need of replenishing their illegal supply of party favours, they turn to their trusted dealer and guardian angel Mr. Green, played to perfection by Michael Shannon. Mysteriously creepy yet inexplicably wise, his character comes as a complete surprise since audiences are used to seeing Shannon in more dramatic roles. However, he proves just as much the comic genius as his co-stars, acting as the inexplicably calm one, while Isaac, Chris and Ethan lose the plot over their eventful night.
- The magic of New York
A Christmas movie isn’t complete without the perfect backdrop and like many films before it, The Night Before is set in the beautifully snowy setting of New York City. From the Rockefeller Centre to the wonderfully lit streets, the exciting playground that is NYC is the perfect location for Isaac, Chris and Ethan to find trouble. Dick pics and drug-fuelled fever dreams aside, The Night Before really is a charming albeit different kind of Christmas movie, no doubt thanks in part to its festive location.
Image sourc: Sony Pictures.