By Jeri Jacquin & Jenise Jacquin

In theaters this week from director/writer Jonathan Levine and Columbia Pictures comes a Christmas tale of friendship with “The Night Before.”

It is that time of year when friends Ethan (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), Isaac (Seth Rogan) and Chris (Anthony Mackie) get together to celebrate the holidays. It is a tradition the three have been following for years with one link holding them together even tighter – the Nutcracka Ball.

Spending years trying to find the mythic event much has changed with the guys. Isaac is married with a baby on the way and Chris has finally made it to the NFL. The only one who seems stuck in time is Ethan, especially after a break up with girlfriend Diana (Lizzy Caplan).

On this night, Isaac’s wife Betsy (Jillian Bell) has given her hubby permission for one final night of craziness before the baby comes and gives him a little illegal medicinal incentive. The big surprise is that Ethan has finally come across (that’s using the term stealing loosely) tickets to the Nutcracka Ball!

That doesn’t mean there won’t be problems – LOTS of problems – but it is a night none of them will ever forget!

Gordon-Levitt as Ethan is the sad sack who can’t seem to move on with his life or make a commitment. Getting the Nutcracka Ball tickets seemed to be the high point of his life. That being said, Gordon-Levitt has moments of giggles and his unexpected sing-song with you’ll-see-who was a nice touch.

Mackie as Chris is a player of a different kind. Trying to impress his NFL friends and YouTube followers, he is more pretentious and don’t think his friends don’t notice.

Bell as Betsy is the expecting Mama who is trying her best to not freak out about having a baby. She calls hubby her ‘rock’ but it seems she is the one I’d count on! Caplan as the long missed girlfriend Diana isn’t sure about her feelings for a guy who can’t even meet her parents but that’s about as far as this role goes for the MASTERS OF SEX star.

Rogen as Isaac gets the chance to smoke, snort and eat his way through the medicine cabinet while embracing his Jewish-ness, sweater and all. His role is the funniest, especially during his cell-phone-at-the-dinner-table scene that had me laughing pretty hard.

The winner here is Michael Shannon as Mr. Green. We both love everything that Shannon has done because, it must be said, he always does the unexpected. Here he gets a chance to tackle his comedic side but in such a way that is epic.

TUBS OF POPCORN: We give “The Night Before” three and a half tubs of popcorn out of five. This film has everything you’d pretty much expect of a comedy that includes three guy friends. It has wicked humor, a few gross moments, more surprises than we can tell you about and a feel good ending.

Buddy comedy’s can be good but when you add the element of the holidays and the ability to make fun of just about anything without feeling offended then “The Night Before” will give you some good laughs. The sweaters are the best and we want one or two of them!

There are many, many cameos and I’m not going to tell you who they are or where they pop up because I loved seeing it for myself and the audience reaction fuels even more laughter for the film. In other words — see it!

In the end — its three wise men and one wild Christmas!

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About the Author

Jeri Jacquin

Jeri Jacquin covers film, television, DVD/Bluray releases, celebrity interviews, festivals and all things entertainment.