Like his previous movies, Jonathan Levine's The Night Before is pretty stony.
Seth Rogen, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Anthony Mackie's star as best buds who grew up together, are getting older and need to have a throwback Christmas Eve blowout to remind themselves of high times past.
Similar to his character in Neighbors, Rogen's Isaac is married and, in this case, they're about to have a baby (in Neighbors he and Rose Byrne had a newborn). So for him this could be the last time he ever has any fun. Gordon-Levitt's Ethan is depressed over his breakup with Diana (Lizzy Caplan), who he refused to commit to. And Mackie's Chris is home to brag about his exploits a a pro football player.
They rent a stretch limo (provided for crass product placement purposes by Red Bull) and, along with a box of drugs supplied by Isaac's wife Betsy (Workaholics' Jillian Bell), hit the town. It does't take long for Isaac to start gobbling mushrooms. This sets off a fiim-long high - or, in this case, low.
Isaac has a classic bad trip, filled with paranoia and self-doubt. He tries to climb out of the abyss with coke, but that makes things even worse.
In rapid succession, he curses his prospective baby in a selfie video, has a deep conversation with Jesus in a manger and throws up in church during midnight mass. He's a mess.
It's not as if anyone comes to his rescue. At least in one scene a pot dealer named Mr. Green (Michael Shannon) makes him smoke a joint, but even that doesn't help calm his anxiety.
Meanwhile, Ethan runs into Diana at a bar and later at the climactic holiday party where he serenades her and even proposes at the suggestion of Miley Cyrus. (She's the party's surprise entertainment.) Diana's not impressed.
The funniest bit in The Night Before comes when James Franco makes a cameo at the club. These ten minutes of Franco and Rogen playing off each other is one the movie's few gifts. Another is Rebecca Grinch (Broad City's Ilana Glazer), who in one naughty scene has her way with Chris.
Tying up loose ends, Levine' hackneyed finale brings little cheer. He did much better work with 50/50 (also starring Rogen and Gordon-Levitt) and The Wackness.
But moviegoers seeking a feel-good Christmas flick seem to be warming to The Night Before. It earned $10 million at the box office in its opening weekend.