Film Trailers

The Night Before Trailer: Seth Rogen Reminds Us He’s Jewish in Reunion with 50/50’s Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Seth Rogen frequently serves as a producer and co-writer on his movies. However, even when he doesn’t have a hand in the writing (e.g., 50/50, Neighbors) he usually picks movies which ground the guy humor trappings in some emotional throughline, like how the apocalypse is really window dressing for the dissolution of adult friendships in This Is the End.  Lately, he seems especially preoccupied with the notion of transition, like how Neighbors is ultimately about two guys (Rogen, Zac Efron) at different stages of their lives but both still struggling to transition into adulthood.  Really, from Knocked Up to Superbad (which Rogen co-wrote) to This Is the End to The Night Before you see a pattern of a writer-actor who is continually drawn to stories of friends being torn apart and guys resisting the next stage of life, be it college or parenthood.

It all only really works, though, if the jokes are funny because Rogen’s films are usually comedies first, dramas second, although 50/50 inverts that formula. Unfortunately, The Night Before doesn’t look particularly funny based on its newly released redband trailer:

The Night Before re-teams Rogen and Joseph Gordon-Levitt with their 50/50 director Jonathan Levine and throws Anthony Mackie into the mix, a good move since Mackie seems to be overflowing with charisma. As laid out in the trailer, the story is simply that Gordon-Levitt’s two best friends always hang out with him on the anniversary of the death of his parents. That anniversary just happens to be the night before Christmas, but now that Mackie is some kind of sports star and Rogen is about to become a dad this is probably the last time they’ll be able to honor the anniversary together. So, why not go out in style?

As premises go, “one last crazy night on the town” is a good starting point. However, the trailer gives us way too much Rogen, not enough of Gordon-Levitt and Mackie. Rogen’s schtick is what it is.  You know what you’re getting. His character having a drug trip in a church might have seemed more original if we hadn’t already seen him playing an expectant father who had a drug trip at an inopportune time in a public setting in Knocked Up. I want to see more of Gordon-Levitt singing onstage with Miley Cyrus and lobbing jokes back and forth with Lizzy Caplan and Mindy Kaling. I also want to see Anthony Mackie actually speak. Does he even have a line in that trailer? [Just re-watched] He has 4 lines, all in a single scene in a limo.

I can’t imagine The Night Before will pack as much of an emotional punch as 50/50 nor does it look like it’s especially intended to do so. However, with Rogen, Gordon-Levitt and Levine back together I had my hopes up. We’ll see how it turns out when this drops on November 25, 2015.

3 comments

  1. I’m almost slightly ashamed that I found myself laughing along through the trailer. Rogen’s general over-the-top outlandish humour from slapstick to comedic verse is actually quite enjoyable even if we see it a lot. Your point about his track record with friendships and transitions is great, I’d never thought of it like that before so it places a whole new perspective on almost his entire filmography. Pretty basic premise but still one I’m keen to give a go, JGL’s non-actor based work is usually pretty good so it will be interesting to see a collaboration of his talents on screen.

  2. Why doesn’t Joseph Gordon-Levitt remind us he’s Jewish instead?

    This is another film where fat ugly Jew 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.

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