It’s still too early for Christmas and I absolutely did not want to see another Christmas movie. But it was either The Night Before or that Hunger Games movie so the choice was obvious. The trailer for The Night Before has been on every movie I’ve seen for the last month and I was pretty sure this was one of those movies that would have all its best jokes told in said trailer. Actually, that’s pretty much what happened as far as the jokes go, but luckily there seems to be more going on in this movie than just that.
On Christmas eve, three lifelong friends, two of whom are Jewish, spend the night in New York City looking for the Holy Grail of Christmas parties.
The Night Before’s friends wander from activity to activity without any real direction just like Night Before meanders through its plot. I was never really sure what was happening or whether they were succeeding in what they were doing or not. Their problems were established but their goals really weren’t. We know what’s wrong with each of them; we just don’t know what they’re going to do about it. Well, we know what they’re going to do, just not how that’s going to help.
I really liked the cast. I’m not sure if that’s the same as the acting, though they certainly overlap. Seth Rogan’s drug trip was hilarious. Some moments his performance that were worth the price of admission for me. Even the horrifically awkward moments (and there were a few) were still pretty funny because they were played absolutely straight. And then there’s Joseph Gordon-Levitt, whom I love so much. I had troubles seeing him as needy or damaged as the character seemed he should be. Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s just so… dapper.
For such a goofy movie The Night Before has quite a lot of depth. There were some good themes in there. How do you maintain a friendship when life gets in the way? When is it time to pull the plug on something that once worked but isn’t anymore? What if your solution isn’t working? These questions are all asked and answered though Your Mileage May Vary.
One great thing about The Night Before is that its plot and its humor aren’t based on deception or misunderstandings. Nobody’s trying to pull one over on anyone else for the entire film. There are no horrible secrets that anyone has to work at keeping hidden. In fact this film makes it look like that’s what it was going to do (and I rolled my eyes) but then the characters came clean at the first opportunity to great (and very funny) results. The humor played with a refreshing honesty.
I liked this movie more than I thought I would. Maybe I am going soft. Or maybe, in this case, I’m exactly in the demographic this movie was aimed at. I’m not sure, but I’m glad I went to see it. That said, I don’t especially need to see this movie again. While it had good characters and a good message and I had a good time seeing it, I didn’t really need to think much afterwards.