“The Night Before” Review

Updated: December 8, 2015

Backed by a solid cast that hits the audience with an array of jokes from start to finish, “The Night Before” is an enjoyable comedy film that also managed to mix in a few real life/growing up topics that most of us can relate too.

The movie begins by flashing back to Christmas Eve 2001, which was the night when Ethan Miller (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) lost both of his parents in a car accident. His best friends Isaac Greenberg (Seth Rogan) and Chris Roberts (Anthony Mackie) are there to console him, starting a tradition that sees the three of them hanging out each year on this day to ensure that Ethan is never alone during the Holidays.

As time goes on we see them partying on this night and adopting a routine of going to the same haunts year after year, eventually catching wind of an elusive party called the ‘Nutcracker Ball’ that they can never seem to locate. The ‘Nutcracker’ is the Holy Grail or Great White Buffalo to the trio, always on their minds yet always out of reach. By 2015, Issac and Chris are ready to give up their tradition as one (Issac) is expecting his first child with his wife while the other (Chris) is now a famous football player. Ethan however is struggling both personally and professionally, reluctant to let go of the past or move forward like the others.

It was easy for me to get on board with this movie due to the hilarity of the lines and situations (the scene at Chris’s mothers apartment might’ve been my favorite) and also because of some of the prevailing themes. Those of us lucky enough to have a core group of friends from high school or college all have certain places we like to go and hang out at, even developing  annual customs along the way. This type of familiarity fosters a degree of comfort and this is precisely what Ethan is trying to maintain with his friends throughout.

Without fail though, as we get older it does become increasingly difficult to keep in contact with people and continue the traditions of the past. Within each group there are usually a few people who refuse to move forward and continually ramble off a pattern of excuses in an attempt to rationalize their stagnant behavior, and it takes the events and interactions of this last ‘night’ to get Ethan out of his particular funk.

By the end of the movie we have witnessed some personal reflection and growth out of each of our three leading men, helped along in some instances by the characters played by the likes of James Franco (aka ‘James’), Miley Cyrus, Mindy Kaling, and Michael Shannon. While it might’ve been their final Xmas eve together in terms of the rituals Ethan, Issac, and Chris had previously grown accustomed too, a year later it appears that a new Xmas tradition has been created with the inclusion of folks they all hold near and dear to their hearts. And to be honest, they all look happier for it.




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