The Night Before review: ‘Probably most people’s idea of a nightmare’

PUBLISHED: 09:19 07 December 2015 | UPDATED: 11:30 07 December 2015

Seth Rogen, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Anthony Mackie in The Night Before. Picture: Sarah Shatz/Columbia Pictures

Seth Rogen, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Anthony Mackie in The Night Before. Picture: Sarah Shatz/Columbia Pictures

© 2015 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

This is a Christmas comedy that delivers lots of ho ho ho, but precious little in the way of good cheer, writes Michael Joyce.

The last time Gordon-Levitt, Rogen and Levine teamed up, in 50/50, JG-L was battling to survive cancer. His lot has definitely picked up this time round: now he’s one of three buddies who for the last time are observing a seasonal tradition to go out and get wrecked together in New York on Christmas Eve.

The idea of a comedy, featuring most of the people behind The Interview, that riffs on themes from A Christmas Carol but includes copious swearing, drug use and anti-social behaviour, is probably many people’s idea of a nightmare, but the film is more of a bad dream; specifically the bad dream where you are trying to get somewhere but you never get anywhere. At the start Levitt acquires tickets for a highly secret, Eyes Wide Shut type party that he has always wanted to go to. Then of course the film is taken up with the mishaps that prevent them from getting there.

The problem with the movie is that the audiences comes to share the frustration the characters feel at not getting there because the ruses the script uses to stop them are so weak. The comedy is also tiredly familiar. Seth Rogen spends the whole movie taking drugs and speculating about what it would be like to have sex with a man – as he does in every movie he makes. He is though by far the best thing in the film and has a couple of hilarious moments of Jewish crucifixion guilt.

Rating: 2/5 stars

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