Possibly for the first time, we get to watch a Christmas film where one of the main protagonists is off his biscuit on a cocktail of recreational drugs for the vast majority of the running time. If that kind of yuletide spirit floats your boat then The Night Before might just rock your world.
Seth Rogen and Anthony Mackie are pals with the perpetually downtrodden Joseph Gordon Levitt; for over a decade the three best friends have spent Christmas together on account of Levitt's Ethan being parentless. Alas they're in their mid 30s now and need to grow up - so it's time to break the tradition. But first, the lads hit up a party they've been trying to get into for years, The Nutcracker Ball. On the way they bump into ex-girlfriends, do a bit of karaoke, get sent some epic dick pics and buy a lot of weed.
Fans of Seth Rogen's humour won't be disappointed. While there are four credited writers, this has the Apatow infused vibe of improvisation; simple plot, likeable leads in unlikely situations and just letting them have at it. It works because the cast are all great, and helmer Jonathan Levine never lets it creep into self indulgence.
Sure, it's all absolutely ridiculous and there are several unlikely scenarios on the lead up to the climaxing Nutcracker Ball. But when the guys finally get to the party the film is clearly acutely self aware and by that point you're either on board or not.
The three leads have an effortless chemistry and Levitt in particular gets to show off some of his range - singing, dancing, rapping as well as the obligatory comedy and drama. Mackie is enjoying himself in his first real comedic outing and Rogen is the steady hand, not afraid to make a fool of himself, or play second fiddle. There really aren't many actors of his stature who'd consistently take a back seat for the greater good of funny. Rogen has done it consistently over his career.
This feels like the kind of Christmas comedy that will play and play over the years. As it stands now, it's a really good laugh.