While The Night Before intended to pull off a comedic threesome, none of the actors have any real chemistry with each other.
It’s a decent comedy, but to draw a comparison, it’s not even close to the laughs in A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas. Both movies have the same brand of humour, yet Harold & Kumar is superior because Cho and Penn have a rapport.
The Night Before follows three best friends and their not-so-whirlwind adventure through the streets of New York on Christmas Eve. Anthony Mackie reprises his roll as the ‘roided-up athlete from Pain & Gain, Levitt’s reprises his roll as the orphan from Dark Knight Rises, and Rogen reprises his roll as that Jewish guy.
These characters have nothing in common, and aren’t connected by any comedic scaffolding. They each have their moments, but none of the moments happen in unison. Because of this, the supposed friend ship that the audience is the told the three have, falls flat. It’s certainly supported by flashbacks and exposition, but there’s no on-screen dynamic that confirms it.
The major strength of The Night Before lies the story; Though lacking in plot, it moves smoothly from one high-jinx to the next. But, again, the disinterested performance on the part of Levitt and Mackie rips up any coherence that Levine’s writing and direction may provide. They act like the movie is just a role to kill time between their blockbusters, and it is, but some heart would be appreciated—As a common courtesy to the audience member that wants to watch a good Christmas movie, without having dig up Christmas Vacation from a dusty binder full of DVD’s.
To his credit, Rogen does put his heart into it. Whether it’s a text conversation with a stranger sending him dic-pics, or his freakout in the church, Rogen is the highlight of the movie. This is in part due to his comedic prowess over the other two men, but also due to the role that he plays: A guy that’s really fucked up on shrooms and cocaine. It’s not an easy role, most people would suck at it; however, it’s an easy role for him. A plethora of celebrity guest spots appear throughout, and each of them elevate Night Before in their own way. Unfortunately, they only compose the icing for a haphazard cake.
I’m not trying to shit on the film. It’s a competent comedy; the writing, guest spots, and Rogen manage to keep everything afloat. But if you want to watch a buddy comedy for the holidays, go for Sisters—there’s no denying the chemistry between Fey & Poehler.