I’m not sure WHY I expected Seth Rogen’s latest comedy The Night Before to suck, but I did.
I expected it to suck even though it also stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who was in one of my favorite Seth Rogen movies ever (50/50– Pick it up if you haven’t seen it). I expected it to suck even though it also stars my new favorite Avenger, Anthony Mackie, who can currently do no wrong in my book. Maybe I expected The Night Before to suck because the concept seems so thin. Three friends meet on Christmas Eve every year to get hammered. Sounds like an excuse for marginally-funny “look how wasted we are” shenanigans and cameos by Rogen’s celebrity pals, right? That’s exactly what The Night Before is, but it’s also a whole lot more.
These men started their Christmas tradition in High School, after one’s parents were killed in a drunk driving accident. They become the orphan’s adopted family, so to speak, which brings an unexpected layer of tragic sweetness to the film. The Night Before also offers surprising turns by Tracy Morgan and by one of the most underrated actors out there, Michael Shannon. I was just thinking that I needed MORE from Michael Shannon, and NOT just as the Bad Guy, which seems to be his role-of-choice lately.
The most surprising aspect of The Night Before though has to be, believe it or not, THE FEMALE CHARACTERS. The always funny Ilana Glazer shows up as a modern-day Grinch and Mindy Kaling plays…well, Mindy Kaling. Lizzy Kaplan is the smart and sexy girl-who-got-away but the BEST OF ALL is Jillian Bell. This woman steals the show, no matter what she’s in, but she turns the tables by being Seth Rogen’s SWEET, SUPPORTIVE WIFE! Movie wives are usually just mad at and/or disappointed in their husbands, so it’s awesome to see one who is actually funny and caring. Even crazier, HE’S SWEET AND SUPPORTIVE IN RETURN! Pretty strange to find that in some stupid Seth Rogen movie, but I’ll take it wherever I can.
YES, it’s your typical Drugged-Out-Comedy/Bromance but The Night Before also offers some sweet, much-needed surprises and that’s why I’m giving it a B-.