Don’t let the title fool you.  Warning: this is not a kids’ movie – it’s an adult movie for those of us who never grew up. Yes, I count myself in this club. A more descriptive title might be “The Night Before The Hangover.” My observation is that this movie is best seen in a slightly impaired state of your choice. Director Jonathan Levine (“Warm Bodies,” “Rush”) is proving himself a master of wacky inebriated party tales.

This is a frat house style romp, except with a cast of 30-somethings … looking for the meaning of life … or actually they are looking for the all-time legendary Christmas Eve party of all Christmas Eve parties, in other words the real “Meaning of Life”, invitations to which they had been coveting since they were in college. This party is more important to these guys than Christmas – also note that Seth Rogen’s character wears instead of an “ugly” Christmas sweater, an “ugly” Star of David sweater through the whole film. When one of the guys manages to steal three of the party tickets while working as a coat check, things heat up quickly, but no one can seem to focus on getting there without dramatic derailments of all sorts. In the end the characters grow on you and remind you of yourself in this great tale of a misguided search for the Holy Grail.

Here are the highlights to watch for while you’re having fun watching it.

Ilana Grazer as a pixie version of The Grinch keeps popping up when least expected, with great comedic timing. Tracy Morgan narrates and makes a great surprise appearance as Santa. However, one character really steals the show.  Michael Shannon, usually typecast as the deadly serious good-looking bad guy, is “Mr. Green”, the voice of reason pot dealer who dispenses down-to-earth psychiatric assistance as well as the green stuff. He’s a fantastic comedian with great timing and low-key delivery. There are cameos by the always-surprising James Franco, with a hilarious story line leading up to his appearance, and Miley Cyrus, cast against type as a genuine, angelic bright spirit.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt is the ubiquitous orphan of the Christmas story (we all know every Christmas story has an orphan, and it’s refreshing to see Gordon-Levitt in a comedy). As the orphan, his best friends, played by Rogen and Anthony Mackie, are his family. Gordon-Levitt rolls with the gross humor gracefully, as the innocent trying to land an invite to the party of a lifetime … and to find the long-lost love of his life, played in sweet sincerity by Lizzy Caplan (“Masters of Sex”). Seth Rogan assumes his usual role- the great equalizer, full of jokes. Jillian Bell is his wife, the rock of granite to his uncontrollable waves.

You will find that “The Night Before” will be a fun antidote to the many deadly serious movies out this season. Just make sure you party a little before seeing it so that you approach it with the same level of silliness that the team enjoyed while making the film.

Rated R; Runtime: 101 Minutes, Released Nov. 20

Kathryn Whitney Boole was drawn into the entertainment industry as a kid and never left.  It has been the backdrop for many awesome adventures with crazy creative people.  She now works as a Talent Manager with Studio Talent Group in Santa Monica. kwboole@gmail.com 

For previously published reviews see https://kwboole.wordpress.com