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The Night Before
BLU-RAY disk
03.08.2016 By: Sean Wist
The Night Before order download
Director:
Jonathan Levine

Actors:
Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Seth Rogen
Anthony Mackie

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Three lifelong friends spend Christmas Eve in New York City looking for the Holy Grail of Christmas parties.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
Director Jonathan Levine previously paired Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Seth Rogen together in the dramedy 50/50 and I think it's safe to say that everyone was pleasantly surprised with those results. The two leads had some great chemistry together, bringing audiences to both laughs and tears. A Night Before reunites JGL and Seth Rogen while adding The Falcon himself, Anthony Mackie, into the mix. The end result is a film that's much more silly but still has some heart.

The crux of this film is an adventure three friends embark on to find an exclusive Christmas party somewhere in New York, but it's all a backdrop for them dealing with middle-age. Ethan (Levitt) has abandonment issues, Isaac (Rogen) is dealing with the responsibilities of becoming a parent, and Chris (Mackie) is struggling to find his place in his career. Of all the stories, Chris' football backstory packs the smallest punch, but all three leads feel comfortable together. Rogen is more reserved here than we're accustomed to (at first), with his eventual outbursts actually justified thanks to a gift from his wife consisting of a goody box containing various drugs. JGL's Ethan is mostly the straight man trying keep his friends together and possibly win back his ex (Lizzy Caplan). All the while, an enigmatic drug dealer (Michael Shannon) shows up at the most precarious of times, offering insight and some of the film's biggest laughs.

As it happens, things that can go wrong often do, and the movie ties itself up exactly how you think it will. Still, unpredictability is not the name of the game here. The film plays upon your familiarity with Christmas tropes and uses that its advantage. Surprisingly, as vulgar as things get in this film, it all feels pretty good-natured. It's as if someone's taken a family Christmas film and run it through the 'Seth Rogen filter.' That's either going to sound like a good or bad thing to you, but if you like this cast of characters, you should find plenty to enjoy with A Night Before.
THE EXTRAS
The listing for these special features may look extensive, but read on and you'll see why there's a lot less here than it seems...

Deleted and Extended Scenes (8:00): 2 deleted scenes and 2 extended scenes take up the entirety of these 8 minutes and mostly include Seth Rogen freaking out about the size of a certain someone's something, as well as the aftermath of his church desecration. In the end, nothing noteworthy.

Gag Reel (1:00): A gag reel should be the highlight of any comedy, but with this one clocking in at only a minute (what?!?), there's really not enough time to settle into any of these scenes and enjoy the actors' fun.

Christmas in the Summer (5:35): This short behind-the-scenes look mostly deals with the fact that this was movie shot over the summer, and how the cast and crew contended with that (hint: lots of fake snow). An interesting peek behind the curtain to remind you that it's all "movie magic."

The Spirit of Christmas (3:23): The cast and crew throw in their two cents on what Christmas and/or Hanukkah means to them.

Drunkest Santas on the Block (4:27): This featurette breaks down the scene in which JGL's character is accosted by the two Santas played by Jason Mantzoukas and Jason Jones. Those of you familiar with The League know how funny Mantzoukas can be, although this scene (and its outtakes) don't represent the best this film has to offer.

Midnight Mass with Nana (4:06): Here we get to see some of the filming of the church scene. Surprisingly, a lot of the material they left out is really good!

Whale Juice (3:11): Now this is what I'm talkin' about! Here we go behind-the-scenes of the strip club "hallucination," and we basically see Jillian Bell make Seth Rogen lose his shit. They absolutely need to team up for another movie down the road!

Mr. Green O-Rama (3:59): This featurette gives us some more one-liners from Michael Shannon's character, Mr. Green. While he was arguably the best character in the film, the outtakes here are nothing special. Even worse is that the footage is overlaid with some cutesy, bullshit music, which is a trend in outtakes I personally hate!

Making One Epic Party (20:22): The longest bonus feature here is the one with the least amount of focus. It's more of an 'all-encompassing featurette,' but probably would have benefited more if the previous featurettes were integrated into this one. As it stands, you get some BTS footage along with interview snippets from the cast and crew. Nothing particularly special.

Previews: Finally, we have trailers for The Walk, The 5th Wave, The Brothers Grimsby, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, The Bronze, and The Driftless Area.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
A Night Before is a light and funny holiday flick. Much of the film's action may not stay with you long after the end credits roll, but you'd be surprised at how well it holds up to repeat viewings. The special features seem much more extensive than they actually are, providing too few laughs and insights and sorely missing a cast commentary. I'd say a rental is your best bet unless you know this is a movie that will get some repeat action come the holiday season.
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