Hollywood keeps trying to craft the next Christmas classic, but we usually we end up coal … or worse. Is anyone still in therapy from watching “Jingle All the Way?”
So consider “The Night Before” a step up from that seasonal dreck. Its combination of sticky sentiment and rampant drug use makes it perfect for the stoners and slackers set. Audiences seeking bona fide emotions may opt for the mistletoe hanging at their holiday office party.
This Christmas marks the end of the tradition. Isaac is about to become a father and Chris’ football career is taking up too much of his time. That leaves Ethan, who not only pines for his late parents but the girl who got away, played by the grounded Lizzy Caplan.
It’s all a suitable stage for yuletide cheer and a possible reunion. Only “The Night Before” wants that “Harold & Kumar” demo, too. The stoner high jinks comes courtesy of, who else, Rogen. His character is given a Whitman’s sampler of drugs from his very pregnant wife, and he proceeds to snort and swallow them all before the end credits (belated spoiler alert!).
So while Isaac is tripping out, the story careens from heartsick Ethan to Chris, trying to make sense of his newfound fame.
Before Santa can hitch his sleigh we’re treated to a Miley Cyrus cameo that feels like a human-sized product placement and more fuzzy attempts at our emotions. Good luck. The film finds its comic momentum whenever Michael Shannon appears as a wizened pot dealer. Shannon’s inscrutable shtick is a perfect fit, even if the movie isn’t sure what it ultimately wants to be.
“The Night Before” knows the Apatow formula of vulgar and sweetness could yield a seasonal staple. What’s missing in this cynically packaged picture is the true spirit of Christmas movies.
DID YOU KNOW: Anthony Mackie caught so much heat for endorsing Donald Trump for president he later took to Twitter to say it was all a bad joke.
This is another racist movie where fat ugly Seth Rogen plays an explicitly Jewish character, while good-looking Jewish actors (Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Lizzy Caplan, this time) play non-Jews. As a matter of fact, despite being the son of two Jewish parents, Gordon-Levitt has never explicitly played his own ethnicity once in his entire 30 years of acting. Is there a problem, Joey?
This is the same racist trick Rogen pulls every time. He always casts himself as an explicit Jewish character opposite non-Jewish characters played by good-looking Jews (Paul Rudd, James Franco, Dave Franco, Zac Efron, Halston Sage, etc.).
And this new film is from the same studio, S.S.ony, that released last year’s Fury, about fighting Nazis during WWII. Fury starred no less than four Jews (Logan Lerman, Jon Bernthal, Jason Isaacs, and Shia LaBeouf), yet none of the characters were Jewish and Jews and the Holocaust were never mentioned. Gee, maybe they should have cast Seth Rogen as a “funny” Jewish soldier who died early on in the film.
Actors of fully Jewish background: Logan Lerman, Natalie Portman, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Mila Kunis, Bar Refaeli, James Wolk, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Julian Morris, Adam Brody, Esti Ginzburg, Kat Dennings, Gabriel Macht, Erin Heatherton, Odeya Rush, Anton Yelchin, Paul Rudd, Scott Mechlowicz, Lisa Kudrow, Lizzy Caplan, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Gal Gadot, Debra Messing, Robert Kazinsky, Melanie Laurent, Shiri Appleby, Justin Bartha, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Margarita Levieva, Elizabeth Berkley, Halston Sage, Seth Gabel, Corey Stoll, Mia Kirshner, Alden Ehrenreich, Eric Balfour, Jason Isaacs, Jon Bernthal, William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy.
Andrew Garfield and Aaron Taylor-Johnson are Jewish, too (though I don’t know if both of their parents are).
Actors with Jewish mothers and non-Jewish fathers: Jake Gyllenhaal, Dave Franco, James Franco, Scarlett Johansson, Daniel Day-Lewis, Daniel Radcliffe, Alison Brie, Eva Green, Joaquin Phoenix, River Phoenix, Emmy Rossum, Rashida Jones, Jennifer Connelly, Sofia Black D’Elia, Nora Arnezeder, Goldie Hawn, Ginnifer Goodwin, Amanda Peet, Eric Dane, Jeremy Jordan, Joel Kinnaman, Ben Barnes, Patricia Arquette, Kyra Sedgwick, Dave Annable, Ryan Potter.
Actors with Jewish fathers and non-Jewish mothers, who themselves were either raised as Jews and/or identify as Jews: Ezra Miller, Gwyneth Paltrow, Alexa Davalos, Nat Wolff, Nicola Peltz, James Maslow, Josh Bowman, Winona Ryder, Michael Douglas, Ben Foster, Jamie Lee Curtis, Nikki Reed, Zac Efron, Jonathan Keltz, Paul Newman.
Oh, and Ansel Elgort’s father is Jewish, though I don’t know how Ansel was raised. Robert Downey, Jr. and Sean Penn were also born to Jewish fathers and non-Jewish mothers. Armie Hammer and Chris Pine are part Jewish.
Actors with one Jewish-born parent and one parent who converted to Judaism: Dianna Agron, Sara Paxton (whose father converted, not her mother), Alicia Silverstone, Jamie-Lynn Sigler.