The Night Before

At the Movies Blog
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I missed the press screening for this movie, and since it’s one of those Seth Rogen stoner comedies, I called one of my heavy metal guitarist friends to accompany me to the Town Square Reading. We weren’t as stoned as the three bros in the movie. It was a trip to Starbucks next door before the film. Hey…when you’re in your 40s, things change. I’m more excited by their chocolate chunk brownie, than the brownies with chunks of green.

Director and co-writer Jonathan Levine — gave us the disappointing Warm Bodies, but the brilliant 50/50. This movie was 50/50 with the jokes. Well, more like 80/20, with only 20% working. It’s crazy to think that three other writers helped Levine with this weak script.

There are some people that hate the stoner comedies and bathroom humor. My logic has always been that anything can be funny, and most of Rogen’s stoner comedies work. His longtime producing partner Evan Goldberg is onboard with this picture and despite the great cast, it just doesn’t work. The friend I brought got so bored, he kept pulling out his cell phone and texting people.

In this, the 50/50 duo of Seth Rogen and Joseph Gordon-Levitt have another buddy — Anthony Mackie. He’s a famous athlete, and despite always being hounded for autographs and selfies, they keep a tradition alive that they’ve had for years. When Gordon-Levitt lost his parents right before Christmas 15 years earlier, they decided to start a Christmas Eve tradition of going out and partying the night before. They drink, smoke, meet women, and wear ugly Christmas sweaters. Mackie’s sweater has a black Santa; Rogens is filled with Stars of David. They’re provided a limo from an endorsement deal Mackie has. All of that is a promising start. And you do occasionally get a chuckle. Yet when the movie starts with narration from the usually funny Tracy Morgan — and he doesn’t say anything that humorous — you start to worry (I wonder if anybody else will think of Morgan when they show that limo getting into an accident early in the film).

This is going to be the trios last night with this tradition. They’ve always wanted to crash the famous “Nutcracker Ball,” and they finally get some tickets to it. Since that doesn’t start until 10, they have time for shenanigans around the Big Apple.

Perhaps I’ve seen so many of these types of movies that watching Rogen barf in church, or have a bad trip on drugs, just isn’t funny. When he tries to act calm in front of the usually funny Mindy Kaling, it goes nowhere. It’s a shame she isn’t given any funny lines. In fact, none of the women in this are. That’s a waste, considering the fact that Rogen’s wife is played by Jillian Bell (22 Jump Street), who is a tremendous comedic talent.

Lizzy Caplan (Masters of Sex) plays the ex-girlfriend of Gordon-Levitt, and they have good chemistry. She does have a few good lines, too (one about the size of her vagina).

The one with the best lines is Michael Shannon as Mr. Green. At times, he’s intimidating, spacy, and sweet. He was their drug dealer in high school, and he still meets them in front of the campus when they need bags of weed or bits of advice.

James Franco pops up in a scene, and it’s a bit of fun. It reminded me of how he and Rogen were involved in the Christmas movie last year — The Interview. I’m guessing there won’t be as much controversy with this, unless Fox News declares the film a “war on Christmas.” Although, the movie does have a bit of heart, and actually has a bit of the holiday spirit.

It’s fun watching the guys karaoke to Run DMC, and the film has its moments.

I hated Bad Santa, but I’ve never met a person that didn’t like it. Those same people should love this.

I’m giving it 2 stars out of 5.

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