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"The Night Before" (2015) | Sam Gall Movie Review Issue #88 Gem Mint 10.0

“The Night Before“ (2015)

Director: Jonathan Levine

Writer: Jonathan Levine (story & screenplay), Kyle Hunter, Ariel Shaffir & Evan Goldberg (screenplay)

Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen, Anthony Mackie, Jillian Bell, Lizzy Caplan, Micheal Shannon, Mindy Kaling, Ilana Glazer, Nathan Fielder

Rated: R for drug use and language throughout, some strong sexual content and graphic nudity

Runtime: 1h 41min

Genre: Comedy, Fantasy

Country: USA

Language: English

"On Christmas Eve, three lifelong friends spend the night in New York City looking for the Holy Grail of Christmas parties."

You might like this if you like: Comedies, R-Rated Comedies, Stoner Movies, Christmas Movies, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen, Anthony Mackie, Jillian Bell, Lizzy Caplan, Micheal Shannon, Mindy Kaling, Ilana Glazer, Nathan Fielder

Joseph Gordon-Levitt (left), Seth Rogen (middle) & Anthony Mackie (right) in "The Night Before" (2015)

This might be my favorite Christmas movie of all time.. It’s got my favorite comedy team doing Christmas while paying homage to all that’s come before.

I first heard about “The Night Before” (2015) simply by being a lifelong fan of Seth Rogen’s and Judd Apatow’s work. From the announcement to the first trailer I was excited for it. But then again, whatever the Apatow team puts out I will be among the first in line regardless.

After seeing the collaboration of Seth Rogen, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Jonathan Levine on “50/50” (2011) I couldn’t wait to see what they’d do next! A drug-filled Christmas adventure full of laughs, love and a deeply real look into how friends drift apart over the years and keeping those relationship intact.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt in "The Night Before" (2015)

Jonathan Levine grows as a director for me with this film and gave a beautiful cinematic touch to what would otherwise feel (more like on the page) a silly Christmas comedy. For the most part, that’s what I love about the Apatow team is they make their comedies feel like films not like comedies. “Superbad” (2007) and “Funny People” (2009), “Pineapple Express” (2008) all have a distinct cinematic look and color palette I really appreciate that I feel I don’t get in other comedy films. "The Green Hornet" (2011) too. Incredibly underrated film. All of which Seth Rogen starred, produced or wrote. Yes, I know that has nothing to with the visuals but I know for a fact as a producer Seth/Judd pick their directors carefully. On a side note though, Seth & Judd are tremendously talented directors. Though I’ve been noticing an improvement more in the past few years that not all your comedy films need to look like a brightly colored, television sitcom with a laugh track.

The story of 3 friends trying to keep a tradition going (though it feels more like their friendships going) despite the newfound responsibilities of growing up, becoming famous and starting a family.

Seth Rogen (left), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (middle) & Anthony Mackie (right) in "The Night Before" (2015)

The film holds a special place in my heart. My favorite group of friends on screen reflected my favorite group of friends in real life. This was one of the last films I saw with a few of those friends who I barely get to see or talk to now. I felt I was living through what I was seeing on screen but couldn’t even appreciate the remaining friends I had to watch “The Night Before” (2015) with. I saw it multiple times in theaters with a good friend and many times at home on rewatch and showing to others.

Losing a parent only deepened my connection to this film, going through that on Christmas, growing apart from old friends, made me feel all the closer with this story and film.

Seth Rogen in "The Night Before" (2015)

Seth Rogen will always please, but my god does he know how to drug-act. I truly consider this a skill that most comedies exaggerate to a cartoon-like experience. Rogen’s performance(s) were terrifying real, hilarious and heartfelt as hell.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a charm and magnificently funny in this movie. Only elevating the comedic relationship with him and Seth since their work on “50/50” (2011). Been a fan of his forever, though ironically I’m catching up on “3rd Rock from the Sun” for the first time which my fiancé, Rachel, got me into. A childhood favorite of hers.

First time I’d really seen Anthony Mackie in anything else other than “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” (2014) and “Ant-Man” (2015) as Marvel’s famous Sam Wilson aka Falcon at the time but i really enjoyed seeing a more freeing, funnier and deeper side of Anthony Mackie’s talents. On top of loving him as Sam Wilson, of which I CANNOT wait for “The Falcon and The Winter Soldier” on Disney+, I really loved his performance in "Black Mirror"’s episode “Striking Vipers” S05E01.

Mindy Kaling (left) & Lizzy Caplan (right) in "The Night Before" (2015)

On top of these three genius’, you get the lovely Jillian Bell from Comedy Central’s “Workaholics” show who i was so excited to see get to finally work with Seth Rogen as well as the amazing Nathan Fielder also from Comedy Central’s “Nathan For You” (Nathan and Seth went to the same high school together in Canada). On top of that you get the two wonderful gals; Lizzy Caplan and Mindy Kaling who I've loved forever. Lizzy Caplan I've loved from "Freaks & Geeks" which she was on briefly, Seth Rogen's "The Interview" (2016), HBO's "True Blood" and many more. Mindy Kaling is a goddess. Everything from "The 40 Year Old Virgin" (2005) to Ryan & Kelly from the U.S. "The Office". Always a joy to see her.

So many great guests, it’s the first time I ever saw Ilana Glazer, who I’ve since been obsessed with in Comedy Central’s “Broad City” and saw her live comedy in Oxnard, who’s so wonderfully memorable in this film! Jason Mantzoukas who I love as Rafi on FX’s “The League”, and many more surprises!

Seth Rogen (left) & Michael Shannon (right) in "The Night Before" (2015)

The true veteran of the movie that made it all that much better was Michael Shannon. One of my favorite actors of all time. Never seen him do anything like this before, let alone a comedy, but he absolutely killed it. I’d give him an Academy Award for this role. He’s so f*cking good. All the time.

Anthony Mackie (left), Seth Rogen (middle) & Joseph Gordon-Levitt (right) in "The Night Before" (2015)

On top of all these terrific talents this movie really pays homage to all the Christmas greats before it in charming and fresh ways. One of my favorite films of all time.. Check out “The Night Before” (2015).

Written by Sam Gall on 12/16/20

CGC Grading: Gem Mint 10.0

"The Night Before is not only a celebration of how we lean on those folks, particularly around the holidays, but it's also ridiculous and filthy fun." - Tim Brennan, About Boulder

"The Night Before doesn't shy from clichés. Quite the opposite: it embraces them, co-opting classic Christmas motifs and turning them into something completely its own." - Kimberly Truong, Mashable

"The movie's trump card is the undeniable chemistry between all three leads, with Rogen in particular milking his hung-dog comic delivery for all it's worth." - John O'Driscoll, RTE (Ireland)

"Michael Shannon plays a drug dealer selling three different kinds of weed for the occasion, built around the concept of past, present, and future; buy your ticket now" - Robert Kojder, Flickering Myth

Official Trailer:

Behind the Scenes:

Available on various VOD platforms

#TheNightBefore #SethRogen #JosephGordonLevitt #AnthonyMackie #FalconandTheWinterSoldier #ChristmasMovie #ChristmasMovies #JillianBell #LizzyCaplan #NathanFielder #NathanForYou #JonathanLevine #EvanGoldberg

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