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The Night Before (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

March 1, 2016 by  



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“The Night Before” is a film that will appeal to those who have enjoyed Seth Rogen films such as “The End”, “Pineapple Express”, “Knocked Up”.  If you are a fan of those films, then “The Night Before” will appeal to you.  Yes, it’s a friendship, stoner, Christmas film all mixed into one, but it’s crazy, hilarious, obnoxious and fun.  

Images courtesy of © 2015 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. and LSC Film Corporation. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: The Night Before

FILM RELEASE: 2015

DURATION: 101 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 2:40:1 Aspect Ratio, English and French DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Spanish, Thai and English – Audio Description Track 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English, English SDH, Cantonese, Chinese (Simplified), Chinese (Traditional), French, Indonesian/Bahasa, Korean, Spanish, Thai

COMPANY: Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RATED: R (Drug Use and Language Throughout, Some Strong Sexual Content and Graphic Nudity)

Release Date: March 1, 2016


Directed by Jonathan Levine

Screenplay by Jonathan Levine, Kyle Hunter, Ariel Shaffir, Evan Goldberg

Story by Jonathan Levine

Produced by Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogen, James Weaver

Executive Producer: Barbara A. Hall, Kyle Hunter, Nathan Kahane, John Powers Middleton, Ariel Shaffir

Assistant Producer: Shaun Burke, Alex McAtee, Robert Stull

Music by Marco Beltrami, Miles Hankins

Cinematography by Brandon Trost

Edited by Zene Baker

Casting by Henry Russell Bergstein, Kathy Driscoll, Allison Estrin, Francine Maisler

Production Design by Annie Spitz

Set Decoration by Chryss Hionis

Costume Design by Melissa Toth


Starring:

Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Ethan

Seth Rogen as Isaac

Anthony Mackie as Chris Roberts

Jillian Bell as Betsu

Lizzy Caplan as Diana

Helene Yorke as Cindy

Michael Shannon as Mr. Green

Mindy Kaling as Sarah

Ilana Glazer as Rebecca Grinch

Aaron Hill as Tommy Owens

Tracy Morgan as Narrator/Santa

James Franco as Himself

Miley Cyrus as Herself


Ethan (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), Isaac (Seth Rogen), and Chris (Anthony Mackie) have been friends since childhood, and for a decade their yearly Christmas Eve reunion has been an annual night of debauchery and hilarity. Now that they’re entering adulthood the tradition is coming to an end, and to make it as memorable as possible, they set out to find the Nutcracka Ball – the Holy Grail of Christmas parties.


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Jonathan Levine’s (writer/director of “The Wackness”, “Warm Bodies”, “50/50”) wild and crazy Christmas film titled “The Night Before”.

Co-written with Kyle Hunter, Ariel Shaffir and Evan Goldberg, the film would star Joseph Gordon-Levitt (“Inception”, “(500) Days of Summer”, “Looper”), Seth Rogen (“This is the End”, “Pineapple Express”, “Superbad”, “Knocked Up”), Anthony Mackie (“The Hurt Locker”, “Ant-Man”, “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”, “Million Dollar Baby”), Jillian Bell (“22 Jump Street”, “Goosebumps”, “Bridesmaids”), Lizzy Caplan (“Cloverfield”, “The Interview”, “127 Hours”), Helene York (“Masters of Sex”, “All Wifed Out”, “Darkroom”), Michael Shannon (“Man of Steel”, “Take Shelter”, “Boardwalk Empire”), Mindy Kaling (“The Office”, “Inside Out”, “This is the End”) and Tracy Morgan (“30 Rock”, “Cop Out”, “The Longest Yard”).  With cameos by James Franco and Miley Cyrus.

The film was released in November 2015 and would earn over $54 million in the box office.

And now “The Night Before” will be released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

The film introduces us to three best friends.  Back in 2001, Ethan Miller (portrayed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) has lost both parents in a car accident, so his friends Isaac Greenberg (portrayed by Seth Rogen) and Chris Roberts (portrayed by Anthony Mackie) become his new family.

Every Christmas Eve, the three started a tradition of wearing Christmas sweaters and going bar hopping around New York City.

We then see the trio in 2008 trying to get into the mysterious “Nutcracker Ball”, a wild and crazy party that requires an invitation.  And to all three men, they have been unable to find a way to get in.

Fastforward another seven years later to 2015 and the friends have decided to get together, in what may be the end to the Christmas eve tradition.

Chris is a famous football player, Isaac is expecting a baby with his wife Betsy (portrayed by Jillian Bell) and as for Ethan, he is a struggling musician working at a hotel and still reeling over the recent breakup with his girlfriend Diana (portrayed by Lizzy Caplan).

While working at the coat room at the hotel, Ethan discovers three Nutcracker Ball tickets inside a guest’s jacket and that the location of the mysterious and elusive Nutcracker Ball will be made known at 10:00 p.m.  He calls his friends and they meet up at Isaac’s home.

Before they leave to go to the Nutcracker Ball, Betsy gives Isaac a gift, a box of drugs.

As the group plan to follow their tradition of bar hopping, Chris wants to impress his teammate Tommy Owens by getting him some weed by their old high school friend, Mr. Green (portrayed by Michael Shannon).

But the night stars out crazy as the drugs that Isaac takes, starts to play with his head and is literally gone.

As the three head to a karaoke bar, they run into Diana and her friend Sarah (portrayed by Mindy Kailing) but the three go on a crazy adventure as they try to enjoy their tradition but because life has changed each of them, their differences may split them apart.

How will this evening end for these three friends?  And what do they learn about each other and themselves during their crazy night?


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VIDEO:

“The Night Before” is presented in 1080p High Definition and for this film, while picture quality is good, it’s important to note that most of the film is shot outdoors during the evening and inside a dark bar or Nutcracker Ball.    So, the film is not the most colorful or vibrant film, but the film is well-lit and as expected, close-ups show wonderful detail.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“The Night Before” is presented in English and French 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and also Spanish, Thai and English – Audio Description Track 5.1 Dolby Digital.

Dialogue is crystal clear but the main source taking advantage of the lossless soundtrack is music (which there is plenty of).  Also, ambiance as the trio are often at crowded bars and the Nightcracker Ball.

Subtitles are in English, English SDH, Cantonese Chinese (Simplified), Chinese (Traditional), French, Indonesian/Bahasa, Korean, Spanish and Thai.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Night Before” comes with the following special features:

  • Deleted and Extended Scenes– Featuring two deleted scenes and two extended scenes.
  • Gag Reel – (1:00) Featuring a short and hilarious gag reel.
  • Christmas in the Summer – (5:35) How a Christmas film was shot during the super hot summer.
  • The Spirit of Christmas – (3:23) The cast and crew talk about their own Christmas traditions.
  • Drunkest Santas on the Block – (4:27) A featurette about the drunk Santas (actors Jason Mantzoukas and Jason Jones).
  • Midnight Mass with Nana – (4:06) How the scene with Isaac in the church was shot.
  • Whale Juice – (3:11) The making of the strip club scene.
  • Mr. Green-O-Rama – (3:59) Theories about the drug dealer, Mr. Green.
  • Making One Epic Party – (20:22) The making of “The Night Before”.

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Having watched Jonathan Levine’s films and watching many Seth Rogen comedies, “The Night Before” is a film that feels as crazy as Rogen’s previous films such as “This Is the End” and “The Interview”.

While the duo featured is not Seth Rogen and James Franco (although Franco does appear in the film), the film reunites Rogen and his “50/50” co-star Joseph Gordon-Levitt.  And adding a third with actor Anthony Mackie (stepping away from doing his popular superhero role as Marvel’s Falcon).

While “Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle” came to mind while watching this film as Seth Rogen’s character of Isaac was so stoned with all the drugs he had done for most of the film, the film does have its cliche and banal storyline, as Ethan is confused and saddened by the change of his friends and recent breakup with his girlfriend Diana.

While Anthony Mackie’s Chris Roberts is rather interesting because his character and the chemistry with the other two characters seem so far-fetched to see them as best friends, considering Chris is a popular pro football player.

Nevertheless, it’s an interesting trio who go through major ups and downs in their friendship, but the amount of crazy situations that happen to these characters will no doubt make you chuckle at times.

Mindy Kaling’s character of Sarah was absolutely hilarious to watch, as Sarah keeps a secret on her cell phone which a drugged out Isaac discovers and goes crazy about it.  Meanwhile, Isaac’s wife Betsy (portrayed by Jillian Bell), was also fun to watch.

The film features Michael Shannon as trio’s drug dealing friend and the film features cameos by Miley Cyrus (performer at the Nutcracker Ball) who performs her hit “Wrecking Ball” with Gordon-Levitt’s Ethan.  And James Franco as the guy who is either gay or straight and Kailing’s Sarah and a drugged out Isaac enamored by photos of Franco’s penis.

As for the Blu-ray, the Blu-ray looks fantastic as close-up details look great in HD.  But don’t expect a vibrant film as most of the film is shot at night, outdoors or inside a bar or club.  Lossless audio features crystal clear dialogue and a lot of music.  But surround channels are utilized for ambiance.

And also, there are numerous special features included such as deleted scenes, making of, gag reel and more.  And I will have to say that I was impressed by finding out through the special features that this Christmas film was shot during the super hot weather during the summer and everyone had to wear sweaters and walk around salt.  I can only imagine how inconvenient it was to shoot this film during super hot and humid weather.

While it’s safe to say the film is quite moronic, I happen to enjoy moronic films…may they be Happy Madison films or Seth Rogen films.  I’m not expecting anything deep and you literally know what to expect.  So, if you are cool with this type of comedy, you roll with it and you just watch and laugh.

Overall, “The Night Before” is a film that will appeal to those who have enjoyed Seth Rogen films such as “The End”, “Pineapple Express”, “Knocked Up”.  If you are a fan of those films, then “The Night Before” will appeal to you.  Yes, it’s a friendship, stoner, Christmas film all mixed into one, but it’s crazy, hilarious, obnoxious and fun.

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