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‘The Night Before’ Reviews: Fun Holiday Bromance Or Silly Comedy?

Fri, November 20, 2015 12:03pm EDT by Emily Longeretta Add first Comment

With holiday comedies, you never know how it will go — they could be hilarious (ie. ‘Elf’) or they could be well, not so great (‘Fred Claus’). So, where does ‘The Night Before’ weigh in?

Just from seeing the trailer, you know that The Night Before will make you LOL. But when it comes down to it, should you see it in theaters? The movie walks through three childhood friends, Ethan (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), Isaac (Seth Rogen) and Chris (Anthony Mackie), who realize their lives have officially hit a point where it’s time to grow up. So naturally, they go out with a bang– and with Miley Cyrus. Here’s what the critics are saying.

Roger Ebert
“The Night Before” has enough bad jokes to at times make you wonder if Rogen shouldn’t have matured out of this subgenre one movie earlier. However, it ends strong. The last half-hour is the best in the film, as we’ve come to know and like these characters, and the writers are done wasting time to get to the big jokes and emotional realizations we’ve all been waiting for. In the end, it’s not the lowlights of those “crazy nights” of our life that we remember, and “The Night Before” has enough highlights to make it a fitting final holiday bash.

The New Yorker
Nonetheless, the movie plays it safe; Isaac’s (Seth Rogen) truths don’t stray very far from the circumspect and stepwise decency of his regular life. There’s a solid ethical strain in Rogen’s comedy that also carries over to his performances in dramatic movies, such as “Steve Jobs” and “Take This Waltz.” (It’s the opposite of the id-fuelled comedy and drama of Jonah Hill.) Isaac’s crazies don’t involve much beside ranting and moaning; his unconscious is populated by in-references and stifled empathies rather than by monsters. Join Amazon Prime – Watch Thousands of Movies & TV Shows Anytime – Start Free Trial Now

As with so many comedies about men learning to discard their hedonistic ways in order to confidently embrace roles as husbands, fathers and grown-ups, the film inevitably becomes a schmaltzy slog that tsk-tsks the very behavior it’s previously celebrated. Still, a few climactic Nutcracka Ball cameos partially mitigate this devolution into dreary earnestness, as does a subtle — if insufficiently explored — idea about the way holiday traditions bind friendships even when marriage, kids and jobs threaten to unravel them. While females are merely around to help facilitate their male counterparts’ transformations, this boys-will-be-boys saga is buoyed by its cast’s uninhibited enthusiasm for sex-and-weed-and-bodily-fluids madness — as well as by a score chockablock with holiday standards, and visuals awash in warm, twinkling lights, that cast a simultaneously vulgar, heady and heartfelt seasonal spell.

The New York Times
“The Night Before” combines two weary genres — the sentimental Christmas movie and the naughty-boy comedy — as if knocking their heads together might wake them both up. You may ask: Do we need an R-rated holiday caper that wraps its gooey, good-cheer core in layers of profanity, drug use and nervous sexual humor? Maybe we do, and, in any case, it was inevitable. So like the office party or the homemade cookies from your neighbors, this movie is one of those seasonal things you either endure or enjoy. And honestly, at this time of year, what’s the difference?

Are you excited to see The Night Before? or will you wait until it hits theaters?

— Emily Longeretta