VOD film review: The Night Before
Chris Bryant | On 15, Dec 2017Reading time: 2 mins
Director: Jonathan Levine
Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen, Anthony Mackie
Watch The Night Before online in the UK: Amazon Prime / iTunes / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / TalkTalk TV / Google Play
Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Ethan has a tricky relationship with Christmas. After his parents died on Christmas Eve 14 years ago, his best friends Chris (Anthony Mackie) and Isaac (Seth Rogen) began a tradition of a festive drink-and-drug binge to make their buddy smile and cement their friendship. But with Chris having become a famous NFL star, and Isaac about to become a father, they decide to end the tradition with one last decking of the halls at the legendary Nutcracka Ball.
Written and directed by Jonathan Levine (50/50), The Night Before is exactly the kind of dumb, male-bonding centric movie that would spell Nutcracker with an “a” on the end. Bursting with Apatow-associate co-stars, such as Mindy Kaling, Lizzy Caplan, and Ilana Glazer (none of whom live up to their comedic potential here), The Night Before balances a lot of physical humour, a staggering amount of narcotics, and a lot of recognisable faces in what seems to be an attempt at recreating Seth Rogen’s usual fare – and, in spite of Rogen’s involvement, it fails staggeringly.
Devoid of wit and even relying on full-frontal male nudity for laughs, The Night Before’s awkward Christmas vibe is inexplicably redeemed by Michael Shannon. Playing an unsettling, wise drug dealer, Shannon’s discomforting delivery and sheer weirdness do a grand job of saving this lazy buddy comedy. Coupled with almost three-dimensional leads (Mackie’s football star is doping, Rogen’s excited father-to-be is actually terrified, etc.) and a starry cast who do their best to inject some feeling and comedy, The Night Before, once forgiven, can even be quite enjoyable.
Much like Christmas itself, if you embrace the childish setup, you shall be rewarded with joy – in this case, with a stocking full of Christmas references, a comfortably predictable bro-comedy, and the marijuana-addled magic of Michael Shannon.
The Night Before is available to watch online on Amazon Prime Video as part of a Prime membership or a £5.99 monthly subscription.