These three buddies find their typical Christmas routines getting interrupted as real life and grown-up issues interrupt their usual slacker habits

IT IS that most wonderful time of the year, when Christmas begins to buoyantly creep into the movies.
On cinema screens around the world, films are being angled to become part of the festive pantheon. There is certainly no sense of subtlety in Jonathan Levine’s The Night Before.
Smash together The Hangover and Bad Santa, and you’ll have the strange sludge from which Levine has brought to life this full-blown, bad-taste Christmas monster.
Taking the tag-team of Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Seth Rogen, and pairing them with Anthony Mackie (Captain America: Winter Soldier), Levine sets out to tell a very X-rated Xmas adventure.
After the sudden death of Ethan’s (Gordon-Levitt) parents over a decade ago, he and his two stoner high-school buddies have made a point of spending Christmas Eve together.
But, as they transition into different stages of their lives, they realise that the tradition of getting festively wasted must be broken.
Isaac (Rogen) is on the cusp of becoming a father, and Chris (Mackie) is hitting a new level of fame in his NFL career. Ethan, has just ended a relationship and is struggling to find his place in the world.
The intensity of their last Christmas Eve together is ramped up when Betsy (Jillian Bell) gifts Isaac a smorgasbord of drugs and Isaac finds three tickets to the most exclusive party in town – the Nutcracka Ball …
So begins the 100-minute rollercoaster comedy that is The Night Before. It may be Christmas Eve, but nothing is sacred here.
While it hits more often than it misses, you can’t escape the feeling that there is something lacking. While the script is highly improvised, it lacks that sense of genuine banter that typifies much of Rogen’s earlier work, and makes you wonder where James Franco was when they were casting leads.
For fans of Pineapple Express and Knocked Up schools of comedy, this one will be a hit. But beyond that, will The Night Before earn a place amid the Christmas pantheon?
It seems very unlikely, but strange miracles have been known to happen around this time of year.
Verdict: 6/10