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Review: ‘The Night Before’ needed more comedy

A Seth Rogen comedy with the director of “50/50,” how could this not be amazing?

“The Night Before” is written and directed by Jonathan Levine and stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen and Anthony Mackie.  The movie is about three best friends who have started to grow apart, but every Christmas Eve they always go out together and follow the same traditions. This time, however, Ethan (Levitt) gets three invitations to the best party in the city. Mayhem ensues.

As a huge fan of Rogen, this was a movie I was very excited for.  The cast is terrific, and the director has shown how well he can work with both Rogen and Gordon-Levitt with “50/50.” This seemed like a combination that could not fail.

Rogen is absolutely hysterical in this film, having by far the best comedic moments of the movie.  His character is given a slew of drugs from his wife and is told to have a good time, and we have quite a good time with him.  Rogen lands every joke he says, and is one of the funniest characters I have seen all year.

Michael Shannon is very funny in his supporting role, stealing quite a few of the scenes he is in.  There are also two surprise cameos from some major celebrities that I will not spoil, both of which were hilarious.

Gordon-Levitt and Mackie are serviceable in their roles, but their roles are where I have a problem.  While Rogen’s character is filled with comedic lines throughout the film, the other two leads lacked any comedy whatsoever.  These two both had a lot of serious, dramatic moments that I felt did not fit this movie’s storyline correctly.

Going into this movie, I expected a raunchy R-rated comedy that was nonstop laughs.  Instead, this movie attempts to have some heart and deeper meaning, much of which just did not work for me.  That is apart from one specific flashback towards the end of the movie that worked incredibly well.  If the film was almost completely a comedy with some scattered moments of heart, that would have been perfectly fine.  Instead, the movie becomes a weird blend of nearly half drama half comedy, and it felt unnatural.

Overall, “The Night Before” just felt like it was one idea that was taken two different ways and blended into a single movie.  Rogen is hysterical throughout and clearly the best part of the movie. Mackie and Gordon-Levitt are fine, but not very funny at all and way too dramatic for a movie like this.  Director Jonathan Levine has blended drama and comedy well in the past, but this premise was one that asked for one or the other, not a strange mixture of both.

“The Night Before” was advertised as a hard-R comedy, and that is what I was very excited to see.  Instead, the movie tries way too hard to get serious and have a purpose, which distracted from Rogen’s hilarious moments way too often.


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