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For what it’s worth, this might be the pair’s most consistently funny film.

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L-r, Seth Rogen, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Anthony Mackie star in Columbia Pictures' "The Night Before." - SARAH SHATZ
  • Sarah Shatz
  • L-r, Seth Rogen, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Anthony Mackie star in Columbia Pictures' "The Night Before."

The holiday season is here again, and with it comes a new batch of holiday-themed movies. As an alternative to the influx of the typical family-friendly fare comes a raunchy, R-rated alternative for mom and dad while the children are nestled all snug in their beds. Given that it’s from the same creative team that brought audiences 50/50, This Is the End and last year’s controversial The Interview, The Night Before is set to provide audiences with a Christmas cocktail full of hilarity, male bonding and debauchery.

After Ethan (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) lost his parents in a car accident on Christmas Eve 14 years ago, he and his two best friends resolved to reunite every year to celebrate the evening in the most outrageous and uninhibited ways imaginable. However, with Issac (Seth Rogen) now on the precipice of fatherhood and Chris’ (Anthony Mackie) fame as a football star beginning to grow, the three resolve to end the tradition with one last Christmas Eve out on the town in New York City as they set out on a quest to find the Nutcracker Ball, the “Holy Grail of Christmas parties.”

While it might not bring much in terms of innovation to the R-rated comedy, The Night Before is perhaps the funniest movie to come out this season. Much like the past cinematic efforts of Rogen and his frequent producing and writing partner Evan Goldberg, this film provides gut-busting laughs at a relatively brisk pace.

For what it’s worth, this might be the pair’s most consistently funny film. For every joke that falls flat, there are three or four more that knock it out of the park. Director and co-writer Jonathan Levin also ensures that the film wears its heart firmly on its sleeve and the more serious moments concerning growing up and growing apart from friends aren’t lost in the shuffle.

The shared chemistry of the film’s three leads must also be commended as they elevate a movie built around a potentially stale premise. Gordon-Levitt, Mackie and Rogen all have their own respective on-screen charisma, but when they’re combined, they create pure comedic gold — The Night Before often works best when all three share the screen. When they are apart, Rogen fares best, as his character spends the film’s runtime largely experiencing the effects of one substance or another, leading to some of the film’s best lines and most memorable comedic set pieces.

Rounding out the supporting cast is a veritable cornucopia of comedic talent ranging from Workaholics’ resident scene-stealer Jillian Bell to Academy Award nominee Michael Shannon as the gang’s wise old drug dealer, with a few surprise cameos thrown in for good measure.

While overtly juvenile at times, chances are that any fans of Rogen and Goldberg’s aforementioned filmography are going to have a great time with The Night Before, and in this reviewer’s eyes, any movie that finds an excuse to have Tracy Morgan play Santa Claus is a must-see.

Print Headline; Holiday cheer, The Night Before offers moviegoers a respite from sentimental seasonal films.

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