The Night Before
Cert: 15 / 101 mins / Dir. Jonathan Levine / Trailer
Maybe it's because I'd just sat through the distinctly sparkle-free Christmas With The Coopers, or maybe it's because what followed was the threat-free Krampus, but my Christmas movie of 2015 is The Night Before, by a Lapland-mile.
Maybe it's because the film isn't really about Christmas, but about friendship? Good old fashioned sweary, drunken, adventure-having, mistake-making, off-your-box-a-range-of-substances friendship. As someone who loves the idea of the festivities but seems to struggle with the actuality, I love that The Night Before is more of a yuletide safety-valve for the writers than a heartwarming parable, and I'll completely understand a lot of people disliking the film for continually stepping over the line of what's expected from a tinsel-flick (not that it's ever hateful, but the script's frequent disregard for the line of perceived good-taste is breathtaking).
Ostensibly a very loose retooling of A Christmas Carol, there are also beats from (and references to) Home Alone, It's A Wonderful Life and Santa-knows how many other seasonal movies nested away in there. Seth Rogen is on fantastic form, which is no mean feat alongside Anthony Mackie and Joseph Gordon-Levitt both bringing their comedic A-games. There's still the feeling that the film is a loosely linked series of separately-written sketches, but the recurring beats hold it together nicely enough. Not least of these is Michael 'Zod' Shannon as the mysteriously shambolic Mr. Green. It wasn't until about half way through the movie that I realised Shannon appears to be playing his character as played by Samuel L Jackson. It's never overdone, but quite unnerving once it kicks in.
But as overtly raucous as the film is, there's a good heart beating away underneath, blurring the lines of choosing between spending your time with friends vs family in the holiday season. Because if you're doing it right, your family are your friends, and your friends are family. And neither are just for Christmas ;)
As festive messages of goodwill go, The Night Before is immature, irresponsible and utterly puerile. And all the more genuine, for it...
It's worth paying to see, for sure, but…
…it'd be equally suited to a cold, December night in with buddies and beverages.
And as it's a Christmas movie, you may as well buy it for repeated future use, of course.
All of the baubles shine brightly, here.
I think it could have achieved more, but that's not the point.
Not one jot.
Well, The Night Before stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who also appeared in 2009's G.I. Joe: The Rise Of Cobra, as did a certain Ray 'Darth Maul' Park…
• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
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