Christmas is a special time of year, but it wouldn’t be the same without some of our much-loved traditions. Mince pies, that bloody John Lewis advert, horrible work parties and, of course, the American Christmas comedy. We warmly remember such classics as Elf, Scrooge or National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation whilst blithely purging our brains of Deck the Halls, Christmas Caper of Nativity (1,2 or 3). The Night Before falls somewhere in the middle, but is easily one of the better ones released in recent years.
Ethan (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) lost his parents in a car accident 14 years ago. His best friends, Isaac (Seth Rogen) and Chris (Anthony Mackie), rallied round and together they started a new tradition where they go out every Christmas Eve together. Isaac and Chris have reached the stage in life, impending fatherhood and reaching a certain level of fame respectively, where they’ve decided to make this year the last. When Ethan lays his hands on tickets to the fabled Nutcracker Ball, the trio plan on going out with a bang.
Given the previous work of director Jonathan Levine with Rogen and Levitt on 50/50, there’s an expectation of good things from The Night Before. Whilst it’s a really enjoyable Christmas movie, there’s not quite the spark or sparkle of their previous work. It’s a series of sketches with an overarching narrative, working best when it doesn’t get too caught up in itself. Michael Shannon does his best to steal the show as the mysterious Mr Green. The Night Before is a fun festive film, celebrating the season with a lot of heart and a fair slice of anarchy.
The Night Before is released on DVD, Digital HD and Blu-ray by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment on Monday.