SYNOPSIS: Ethan (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), Isaac (Seth Rogen), and Chris (Anthony Mackie) have been friends since childhood, and for a decade their yearly Christmas Eve reunion has been an annual night of debauchery and hilarity. Now that they’re entering adulthood the tradition is coming to an end, and to make it as memorable as possible, they set out to find the Nutcracka Ball – the Holy Grail of Christmas parties.


The Night Before is like The Hangover: Christmas Edition but instead of Bradley Cooper and Zach Galifianakis, we have Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen and Anthony Mackie.

Since 2001 when Ethan (Gordon-Levitt) tragically lost his parents near Christmas, his two best friends Isaac (Rogen) and Chris (Mackie) have been his party companions on Christmas Eve. But the traditional reunion is coming to an end as Isaac is expecting his first newborn and Chris is now a hot famous football player. To make this a memorable grand finale, Ethan is all set to bring his buddies to the best party in town – the secret as hell Nutcracka Ball!

Coming from the people that brought you Neighbours and This Is The End, you are sure to expect tonnes of dick jokes and drug gags. But director Jonathan Levin (50/50, Warm Bodies) has something else up his sleeves, The Night Before is actually a pretty touching story about friendship and life lessons beneath all that vulgarities.   

Initially starting out as a motive to convince Ethan to quit being a loafer at the ripe age of 33, Isaac and Chris ended up being the ones that benefitted from the entire affair. On the surface, Isaac now a successful lawyer is all prepared to be a father. However he is actually freaking out on the inside. Chris being a renowned athlete is actually craving to be accepted by his far younger colleagues. Ethan might not be as successful as his buddies in terms of career but the guy is very much a romantic diehard. The night party, which took them from Rockefeller center to FAO Schwarz to karaoke to Chris’ old place in a Red Bull limousine, delivers sufficient zany fun and profanity if you are coming purely for the sake of some laugh-out-loud moments and outrageous skits.        

Rogen is his usual stoner self. He has been playing the same character from Knocked Up to The Pineapple Express to Neighbours so what else is new. Mackie remains likeable despite playing a less than likeable character while Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character is kind of bittersweet. Jillian Bell playing Isaac’s wife, Betsy is hilarious and so is Mindy Kaling. The funniest appearance got to be Michael Shannon (Man of Steel) playing a drug peddler that dispenses nuggets of wisdom. Celebrities’ cameos include Rogen’s real-life BFF, James Franco and Miley Cyrus bringing along her wrecking ball.       

Even if it’s a year late, The Night Before remains a perfect comedy for the holiday season. While not as rowdy and ridiculously funny as the first Hangover, it’s never a bore hanging out with these three dudes. 


Making One Epic Party is an informative 20 minutes feature that consists of footages from behind-the-scenes and interviews with the main talents involved.

A rather brief one-minute Cast Gag Reel.

Watch Seth Rogen gets all cracked up by co-star Jillian Bell’s improvisation in Whale Juice: Extended Strip Club Scene.

The Spirit of Christmas is discussed by the cast and crew.

The church scene filmed in an actual church in Manhattan is featured in Midnight Mass With Nana.

Jason Mantzoukas and Jason Jones discuss their scene with Joseph Gordon-Levitt in Drunkest Santas On The Block. 


Visually, the DVD offers a decent modest transfer. Certain night shots looks grainy though it’s likely intended this way. Skin tones and scenes featuring the outrageous looking sweaters the guys wore throughout and Christmas lights are impressive in details. The Dolby Digital 5.1 is bursting with energy whenever the scene calls for a party. There’s also a range of strong ambient effects and excellent choice of Christmas music. 



Review by Linus Tee