When you take a moment to ponder the really satisfying Christmas movies, sure to give you festive fuzzy feelings in your belly, you’ll soon realise that there aren’t many. You’ll naturally gravitate towards the old classics, among which the Home Alone series (only 1 and 2, obviously), The Santa Clause (just the first one; the sequels were rubbish), Elf, It’s A Wonderful Life, and maybe Die Hard (weird, we know) are included. When you focus your attention to this side of the 21st century, however, there’s been scarce a festive film that’s been added into the somewhat exclusive Christmas movie hall of fame, becoming a re-watchable, feel good flick that we’ll return to again and again. Earning this status is no mean feat, as the volume of forgettable flicks in recent years will tell you – 2007’s Christmas Caper with Shannen Doherty? We can’t even. This December, finally, that just might change, as we’ve stumbled upon one almighty festive gem. New movie The Night Before, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen and Anthony Mackie is as funny, festive and as feel-good as you’re likely to get and we demand you go and see it.
First of all, this is not – we repeat not – a movie for the kids; there are drugs aplenty, and your little ones will be scarred for life. But for those over the age of 16, you’re good to go. The Night Before tells the story of three best friends who embark on a series of Christmas Eve traditions after the death of Ethan’s (Gordon-Levitt) parents. Becoming a little family of their own kind, the three amigos have spent every single December 24th together, getting up to all kinds of debauchery in the hopes that Ethan wouldn’t struggle too much at that tough time of year. Naturally, however, they grow older, and Seth Rogen’s character Isaac gets married (with a baby on the way) while Mackie’s character has become a super famous sports star who’s just too busy with his Snapchat to keep this tradition going. Not a lot’s changed for our main man Ethan, unfortunately, whose inability to deal with change and the loss of his parents sees him split with the girl who ticks all of his boxes, Diane (Lizzy Caplan) and generally lose his way in life. But fear not; it’s not all doom and gloom.
With a small supporting role from Michael Shannon and a gas cameo from Miley Cyrus – lest we forget the lol-generator that is Mindy Kaling – the opportunities to spit out your popcorn in a fit of uncontrollable cackles are endless here. While much of the comedy is reserved for the rather underrated Seth Rogen, who falls victim to one too many drug interactions (also, his wife played by Jillian Bell is our new favourite person), there are some sweeter moments to be had between Anthony Mackie and his movie mom, and from the man who can do no wrong, JGL. This movie has everything you’re looking for – physical comedy, a brilliant script, the right amount of emotion, plenty of action (there’s a chase scene, did we mention that?) and as it’s Christmas, there’s a few valuable life lessons to be had. Nawww.
Guaranteed to be a hit with anyone in possession of a funny bone, as well as those who know the importance of their social media game (you’ll see), we’re already excited to revisit this in 2016. It’s a Christmas miracle.
5 stars, in Irish cinemas on December 4th.