When it comes to Christmas releases, Hollywood has developed a Yuletide tactic: throw up the stale studio-mandated dud (this year’s Love the Coopers) and then counteract by offering an R-rated alternative. Jonathan Levine’s The Night Before is exactly that: the stoner yin to the schmaltzy yang.
Sadly for us, despite their different packaging, both of 2015’s main offerings will make you wonder why you’re on Hollywood’s naughty list this year.
Seth Rogen & co. star in a bromantic stoner comedy about three bros who reluctantly have to let go of their bro ways to move into adulthood; they decide to hit the town on Christmas Eve and bro-out one last time because... they’re bros. Cue Rogen devolving into the same man-child routine he’s been making a career out of and undoing the good work he achieved in Steve Jobs, in which he recently proved that he actually can act.
Most perplexing of all is that The Night Before dishes out the same twee sentiments as Love the Coopers, thereby cementing its failure to be an alternative to the formulaic overdose of forced seasonal cheer.
If you think a barrage of drug-fuelled and self-indulgent gags recycled from Pineapple Express are the pinnacle of comedy and enjoy desperate cameos from tweeny pop stars, then book your tickets now. For the rest who struggle to understand what Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Anthony Mackie and Michael Shannon are doing in this lowest common denominator fodder, run for the hills and pick up a copy of Bad Santa instead.
The Night Before | Directed by Jonathan Levine (USA 2015) with Seth Rogen, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Anthony Mackie. Starts November 26.