Rebounding from last year’s scuttled holiday release of The Interview, producer Seth Rogen re-teams with Joseph Gordon-Levitt (50/50), with Anthony Mackie (surely one of the busiest actors of the season) along for the ride, in The Night Before, a bawdy Christmas comedy that manages, rather appropriately, to get by on good will.
Isaac (Rogen), Ethan (Gordon-Levitt) and Chris (Mackie) are long-time best buds about to embark on what they expect to be their final Christmas Eve excursion, in which they romp through the streets of New York, partying hard and raising a little holiday hell.
This year, however, Ethan has surreptitiously scored tickets to the Nutcracker Ball, a legendary bash they’ve dreamed of crashing for years. There are some inspired gags and more than a few groaners, and from time to time the corn quotient bubbles over (especially toward the end), but the three leads have a comfortable onscreen chemistry that goes a long, likable way.
Among the friendly folk who show up are Lizzy Caplan, Mindy Kaling, Jillian Bell, James Franco (subject of one of the film’s ruder – and funnier – gags), the one and only Miley Cyrus, Tracy Morgan (as Santa), and Michael Shannon, waltzing off with his every scene as Mr. Green, a scruffy and eccentric drug dealer who offers keen, if somewhat hazy, holiday wisdom. !
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