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Night Before, The
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by Peter Sobczynski

"a.k.a. SuperNaughty"
3 stars

Following in the tradition of such recent hits as the immortal "Bad Santa" and the surprisingly not-that-bad "A Very Harold & Kumar 3-D Christmas," "The Night Before" is the latest yuletide-themes raunchfest to make a play for audiences who need something a little stronger than the latest iteration of "A Christmas Carol" or whatever piece of crap Diane Keaton is doing these days. Essentially a riff of "Superbad" with all the holiday trimmings--not to mention prodigious amounts of drugs, vomiting and depraved behavior and a cameo from Miley Cyrus--the end result is a scattershot affair that, like most nights on the town, goes on way too long and is never quite as fun as it thinks it is but which does contain enough fun moments to make you at least temporarily forget the draggy ones.

For the past 15 years, three childhood friends--lawyer and father-to-be Isaac (Seth Rogen), newly famous football star Chris (Anthony Mackie) and arrested adolescent Ethan (Joseph Gordon-Levitt)--have made an annual tradition of running wild on Christmas Eve in an orgy of booze, pot and tacky Christmas sweaters. This year, they have decreed (though Ethan is not quite as down with it) that it will be the last year for such shenanigans and they set off into the night armed with a package of drugs thoughtfully provided by Isaac's wife (Jillian Bell), a Red Bull-sponsored stretch limo courtesy of Chris and, thanks to Ethan, three tickets to a super-exclusive annual party that has been their Holy Grail. Of course, things get weird--Isaac does way too many of the drugs and gets all messed up, Chris has a number of run-ins with a literal Grinch (Ilana Glazer) and Ethan runs into a former girlfriend (Lizzy Caplan) who inspires him to contemplate finally joining the adult world at last. Over the course of a wild night that involves violent Santas, a freakout at midnight mass, a philosophical pot dealer (Michael Shannon) and, perhaps inevitably, James Franco, the true meanings of Christmas and friendship are learned at last.

"The Night Before" is a wildly uneven movie that lurches back and forth between brilliance and banality. On the one hand, the similarities between this film and others in the Seth Rogen filmography are so overt as to be distracting--as much as I love Lizzy Caplan, why couldn't she play one of the buddies instead of once again essaying the role of the freakishly-hot-yet-surprisingly-cool girl who gets stuck on the sidelines for most of the running time--and even the "outrageous" elements seem just a little too calculated this time around. That said, when it is funny, it is really funny and while the three leads are amusing enough, both together and on their own during their separate adventures, the film is flat-out stolen by, of all people, Michael Shannon, who deploys the intense demeanor that has brought him such success in dramatic roles to inspired comedic effect--in essence, he does in just a few scene what Robert De Niro has tried and largely failed to do over the last couple of decades.

"The Night Before" is no "Bad Santa"--hell, it isn't even "Harold & Kumar"--and it offers conclusive proof that Seth Rogen needs to take a break from any script that involves outrageous substance abuse or any member of the Franco family.. And yet, while I cannot recommend it in full, I can say that it is more entertaining than a "Home Alone" marathon and it does contain enough funny moments to make it worth checking out on cable on Christmas Eve after the wee one have finally gone to sleep. If nothing else, it offers further proof that "Wrecking Ball" is indeed the song of our times and serves as a pretty good Christmas carol to boot.

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originally posted: 11/21/15 04:30:41
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User Comments

3/03/16 WTFiswrongwithppl The dude above m is an idiot gleaning political themes from a film that could give 2 shits 4 stars
11/22/15 FireWithFire 2 jews and a black shit and piss all over Christmas! Leftist,anti-White "comedy" 1 stars
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  20-Nov-2015 (R)
  DVD: 01-Mar-2016


  DVD: 01-Mar-2016

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