DVDSleuth.com is your source for daily Blu-ray Disc & DVD news and reviews
The Night Before (2015)
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 3/1/2016
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 2/26/2016
In my review forTed 2, I wrote apart how I missed "Judd Apatow Getting High is Funny" seminar and how drug humor in movies all but escapes me. One person who did not miss this seminar and presumably goes every year for a refresher course is Seth Rogen. In the majority of movies where Rogen is the featured star, drugs come into play at some point, and they are always used in attempts to be funny. Rogen has become a modern-day one-man Cheech & Chong, although he remains much more low-key about it. This level of "comedy" reaches new lows in The Night Before, an uneven movie which does not deserve its skilled cast.
The Night Before focuses on three friends -- Ethan (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), Isaac (Seth Rogen), and Christ (Anthony Mackie) -- who have known each other since high school. Ethan's parents were killed during the holidays when he was a teen, and it's become a tradition for the trio to spend the night of December 24th together. However, now that they are in their mid-30s, Ethan, a lawyer, and Christ, a pro-football star, think that it's time to leave this tradition behind. So, they decide to have one last blow-out with Ethan. They pile into Chris' Red Bull limo, and armed with a box of drugs from Isaac's wife, Betsy (Jillian Bell), they hit the town, stopping a the same places which they've visited for years. However, one thing which they've never been able to do is find a mythical party known as the "Nutcracker Ball". Will this be the year that they finally find it?
The Night Before was co-written and directed by Jonathan Levine, who also brought us50/50 and Warm Bodies, both of which are good movies. The interesting thing to note about both of those movies is that they straddle genres. 50/50 is a touching movie about a young man who is dealing with cancer, yet it has comedic tones. Warm Bodies is really all over the place, as it's essentially Romeo & Juliet set in a world of zombies, and yet manages to have funny moments as well. Levine attempts to do something similar with The Night Before. On the one hand, we have a raucous comedy about a group of guys who are loose in New York City, indulging in drugs, sex, and karaoke. If the movie had stuck with just this premise, it could have worked. It wouldn't have been high art, but if it had been funny, that would have been the least that we would have asked. But, Levine has insisted on mixing this sophomoric comedy with a series of unnecessary mature subplots, all of which deal with the guy's lives. Betsy is pregnant and Isaac is terrified of parenthood. Chris has turned to steroids to enhance his career. (This isn't a spoiler. We learn this in the opening moments.) Ethan has no career to speak of and he imploded a promising relationship with Diana (Lizzy Caplan). I get why the movie wanted to insert these serious tones, but it simply doesn't work. Levine cannot keep the material balanced here and the switch from raunchy humor to suddenly somber moment feels as if a different movie had come on.
The lack of balance would have been excusable if either element had worked, but neither does. The "serious" elements are simply too cliched for their own good, The Night Before shows us that there is a fine line between relatable and stale when it comes to story elements. Things don't fare any better on the comedy side. The Night Before is one of those movies where things are constantly happening and the movie is clearly telling you that they should be funny...but they just aren't. I think that I chuckled twice in this 101-minute movie, but there certainly weren't any belly-laughs or quotable lines. The jokes fall flat one after another and the movie goes back to the drug well time-and-time again. Isaac is really high. We get it. It's not funny.
The only interesting thing about The Night Before is the cast. Levine and Rogen have rounded up some old friends and some actors who are better known for dramas to create a group of performers who deserve a much better movie. The most notable performance here comes from an actor who usually plays the heavy in movies, and his take on a comedic role is worth seeing. Otherwise, we have a group of familiar faces who are mired in a movie which appears to be aimed at 12-year old boys, who won't understand half of what is going on. Whether you celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah, The Night Before is a gift which will be going back.
The Night Before couldn’t even redeem itself by having Beaver from Greek show up on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 27 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no notable grain and no defects from the source materials. The colors look very good, most notably the reds, and despite the fact that the bulk fo the film takes place at night, the image is never overly dark. In fact, we get a nice amount of depth here and the image is nicely detailed. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 2.5 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. I was kind of surprised by the relatively low bitrate, which only spikes during the bass-heavy songs at a party. The track does deliver reliable stereo and surround-sound effects, but it is somewhat lacking in highlighting distinct sounds.
The Night Before Blu-ray Disc contains a Santa's Bag worth of extras. We begin with four DELETED AND EXTENDED SCENES which run about 8 minutes. There are no new characters or sub-plots here, simply longer versions of scenes from the finished film. This is followed by a 1-minute GAG REEL. "Christmas in the Summer" (6 minutes) looks at the challenge of shooting a film which is set at Christmastime in New York during the summer. The piece also brings up the design of the holiday sweaters worn by the main characters, as well as the location for the big party. "The Spirit of Christmas" (3 minutes) has the actors and creative team share their personal views on the winter holiday season. "Drunkest Santas on the Block" (4 minutes) has interviews with Jason Mantzoukas and Jason Jones and some alternate takes from their big scene. The scene in the cathedral is broken down in "Midnight Mass with Nana" (4 minutes). (Where the actors oddly remain in character.) "Whale Juice" (3 minutes) show Rogen and Bell going toe-to-toe in a hallucination scene. "Mr. Green O-Rama" (4 minutes) looks at the Mr. Green character and offers alternate takes. "Making One Epic Party" (20 minutes) provides an overview of the entire film, looking at the various holiday traditions which were brought into the movie. This includes comments from the cast and creative team, as well as a nice amount of on-set footage.
Review Copyright 2016 by Mike Long