Blu-ray Review Comedy

'The Night Before' Blu-ray Review: A new high for holiday-themed mischief

March 1, 2016Ben MK

When it comes to Christmas movie traditions, we all have our favorites, whether it's How the Grinch Stole Christmas, It's a Wonderful Life or Home Alone. But what if someone took all the great holiday classics, chucked them in a blender and added a touch of bromance? And then what if they cast Seth Rogen, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Anthony Mackie as the leads? Well you might end up with something like the raucous Christmas comedy The Night Before.

In it, Rogen, Gordon-Levitt and Mackie play three "ride-or-die homies" named Isaac, Ethan and Chris, whose Christmas tradition for the past 14 years — ever since the death of Ethan's parents — has been to hang out with each other on Christmas Eve, get piss drunk and make asses of themselves. But now that they're all in their thirties, that tradition is about to come to an end. Isaac and his wife Betsy (Jillian Bell) are expecting their first child, and Chris' pro-football career is finally taking off. Only Ethan remains stuck in the past, still pining for ex-girlfriend Diana (Lizzy Caplan).

Then something magical happens: Ethan finds three tickets to the most elusive party in New York City, the Nutcracka Ball. Now Ethan and his two best buds are about to embark on the adventure of a lifetime — not just a night filled with booze, every illicit drug known to man and ugly Christmas sweaters; but truly a night to remember. Directed by Jonathan Levine, The Night Before may look like just another excuse for Seth Rogen to run around sweating, panting and acting like a madman who's high on cocaine, weed and 'shrooms; but make no mistake, beneath all the jokes about religion and male genitalia lies a genuinely touching and heartfelt story about the true meaning of Christmas: family and friends.

No, the emotional underpinnings of the story aren't on the same level as Levine's breakout film, 50/50 (which had Rogen playing best friend to a cancer-stricken Gordon-Levitt). But for a movie in which Michael Shannon plays the trio's drug-dealing guardian angel, Tracy Morgan plays an irreverent Santa, and a certain celebrity with the first name James texts dick pics to a stoned-out-of-his-mind Rogen, the story's dramatic core is surprisingly solid. Factor in the hilarious supporting cast, and you can consider The Night Before your new holiday tradition.

With a 1080p image that's sharp and crisply detailed, The Night Before looks excellent on Blu-ray, benefiting from a film-like visual presentation that includes pitch-perfect contrast levels and nicely saturated colors, all the better to bring out the hues in the movie's Christmas-themed color palette. As for the audio, the primary 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio sound mix is more than capable of handling the standard dialogue-centric comedy soundstage, and also features healthy LFE support for the array of Christmas tunes, karaoke songs and club beats that comprise the film's music.

Sony's single-disc Blu-ray release includes an UltraViolet digital copy and the following Blu-ray extras:

  • Deleted and Extended Scenes (8:00) - Four scenes ("Red Bull Limo," "Chris Arrives," "This isn't Your Phone (Extended)" and "Midnight Mass (Extended)").
  • Gag Reel (1:00) - Goofs and silliness from the set.
  • Christmas in the Summer (5:35) - Director Jonathan Levine and the cast and crew talk about the logistics of filming the movie during summer in New York.
  • The Spirit of Christmas (3:23) - The cast and crew talk about their Christmas experiences.
  • Drunkest Santas on the Block (4:27) - A featurette about the angry, drunk santas played by Jason Mantzoukas and Jason Jones.
  • Midnight Mass with Nana (4:06) - A piece about the making of the movie's Midnight Mass scene.
  • Whale Juice (3:11) - A look at the making of the movie's strip club scene.
  • Mr. Green O-Rama (3:59) - An assortment of improvised line readings from Michael Shannon.
  • Making One Epic Party (20:22) - A general look at the making of the movie, from the actors and their characters to the humor and the stunt work.

The Night Before is available from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment as of March 1st, 2016. The Blu-ray features English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, French DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Spanish and Thai Dolby Digital 5.1, and English Dolby Digital 5.1 Descriptive Audio tracks. The film is presented with English, English SDH, Cantonese, Chinese Simplified, Chinese Traditional, French, Indonesian, Korean, Spanish and Thai subtitles. The total runtime is 1 Hr. 41 mins.

* Reviewer's note: Portions of this Blu-ray review were adapted from my original review of the theatrical release, published on November 18th, 2015.

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