The Night Before (Blu-ray) (2015)

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Released 3-Mar-2016

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Drama Deleted Scenes
Outtakes
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Christmas in the Summer
Featurette-The Spirit of Christmas
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Drunkest Santas on the Block
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Midnight Mass with Nana
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Whale Juice
Featurette-Mr. Green O-Rama
Featurette-Making Of-Making One Epic Party
Trailer
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2015
Running Time 101:16
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Jonathan Levine
Studio
Distributor
SONY Pictures
Universal Sony
Starring Seth Rogen
Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Anthony Mackie
Jillian Bell
Lizzy Caplan
Helťne Yorke
Michael Shannon
Mindy Kaling
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI $29.95 Music Marco Beltrami
Miles Hankins


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 5.1
French DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
Italian DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.40:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Arabic
French
Hindi
Italian
Polish
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

††† Adult Christmas movies are few and far between, as the majority of Hollywoodís festive output is aimed at the younger demographic. With the controversy of 2014ís The Interview now in the past, filmmaking duo Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg turn their attention to the holiday season for The Night Before, collaborating with 50/50 director Jonathan Levine for a rowdy, R-rated stoner comedy that also finds time for meaning and drama. Although amusing at times, it falls short of its potential, with the monkey business too often interrupted by half-hearted attempts at sincerity that lack genuine impact. Itís certainly a far cry from the unorthodox brilliance of Bad Santa, though itís not entirely without merit.

††† As a young man, Ethan (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) lost his parents in a tragic car accident, leaving him without a family on Christmas. However, friends Isaac (Seth Rogen) and Chris (Anthony Mackie) come to the rescue, establishing a new tradition to come together every Christmas Eve to party. But with the trio all now in their thirties and ready to get serious about family and career, they decide that this yearís night of drunken debauchery will be their last. Hoping to go out on a high note, Ethan manages to steal tickets to the biggest, most exclusive party in New York City: the elusive Nutcracker Ball. But not everything is working in the trioís favour, especially with Isaac consuming far too many drugs from a gift box that was given to him by his pregnant wife Betsy (Jillian Bell), while Ethan pines for beloved ex-girlfriend Diana (Lizzy Caplan).

††† Itís a standard set-up which suggests a simplistic string of comic set-pieces, but Levine and co-writers Goldberg, Kyle Hunter and Ariel Shaffir search for meaning in each of the three leads, creating emotional arcs in amid all the drugs and booze. On top of Ethanís depression relating to the loss of his parents and the break-up with Diana, Isaac freaks out over the notion of being a parent, and Chris starts using steroids to improve his NFL performance. Itís laudable that The Night Before has ambitions beyond straight-up partying, but Levine has trouble negotiating the tricky tonal changes for this dramedy, and it feels laboured as a result when it should be breezy. Worse, a number of the jokes are on the pedestrian side, with Rogen simply overacting as per usual while the script mostly relies on improvisation to get laughs. Unfortunately, itís hard to recall any particularly witty quotes.

††† However, The Night Before is not a complete travesty. There are scenes and moments that do work, while cinematographer Brandon Trost (The Interview) beautifully sets the Christmas mood with proficient lighting techniques and framing, dovetailed by an array of recognisable festive songs. The movie even opens with an amusing rhyme to make the story seem more like an old-fashioned Christmas tale, energetically delivered by none other than Tracy Morgan who serves as the movieís narrator. But the ace in the hole here is Michael Shannon (Man of Steel) as a zen-like drug dealer whose special brand of weed opens up portals to the past and future. Shannon is able to effortlessly achieve laughs by being so subdued in comparison to rest of the cast, and youíre ultimately left wishing that he had a bigger role. Meanwhile, Gordon-Levitt and Mackie are appealing, Bell gets a few moments to shine, and Caplan is disarming as always.

††† The Night Before simply cannot figure out if it wants to be a sweet dramedy like the excellent 50/50, or a straight-up stoner comedy like This is the End or Pineapple Express. Itís disjointed as a result, but it does provide some fun throughout its 100-minute runtime, especially when the action shifts to the Nutcracker Ball where some famous faces show up (including Miley Cyrus, who runs with the opportunity to play a comically unhinged version of herself). It may not become a widespread new annual Christmas-watching tradition, but The Night Before certainly shouldnít wind up being listed as one of the worst Yuletide movies in existence.

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Transfer Quality

Video

††† The Night Before was never going to be anybodyís idea of eye candy, but this 1080p high definition transfer still leaves room for improvement, looking a touch duller than it did in the cinema. Universal Sony present the movie framed at 2.40:1, via the MPEG-4 AVC video codec, with the transfer presumably sourced straight from the 2K digital intermediate.

††† Cinematographer Brendan Trost also shot The Interview, which looked more sophisticated than the usual comedy, but The Night Before sports a different look, with a gauzy, almost dreamlike colour palette - bright lights are permitted to bleed over edges, not to mention the video is overly soft on the whole. Still, the presentation does fare well considering the inherent softness; clothing looks highly textured, especially the sweaters, while close-ups reveal plenty of details on faces. Colour is stable throughout, and object delineation is consistently strong even in low-light conditions. Luckily, no black crush is apparent, which is particularly fortunate after the disastrous US release of The Interview in early 2015.

††† The Night Before may look somewhat dull on Blu-ray, but itís true to the intentions of the filmmakers, even if the limitations of 1080p are apparent. An Ultra HD Blu-ray release would most likely offer a decent upgrade in terms of clarity and details, but this was never going to be an upper-echelon title from a video perspective.

††† A number of subtitle options are available.


Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
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Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

††† The main audio option here is an English DTS-HD MA 5.1 track, though the disc also offers lossless audio in French and Italian, for those interested. Much like the video, the audio here is respectable but unspectacular, since this is a Christmas dramedy rather than a big-budget action film, though the track still shines from time to time.

††† The Night Before does feature a whole lot of music, with pleasant original music as well as an array of Christmas songs, and the track does an exceptional job on this front. Scenes at parties or bars feature plenty of songs, putting the subwoofer to good use to make you feel as if youíre there. A scene at midnight mass features wonderful atmospherics, with the gentle music filling the surround channels, and directionality is note-worthy as well. During scenes outside, light winds can be heard. Dialogue comes through with terrific clarity, mostly occupying the front channels.

††† No complaints from me. Itís a suitably effective track for a modestly-budgeted comedy.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

††† A rather slight collection of extras, but there is some good stuff here. I just wish there was an audio commentary.

Deleted and Extended Scenes (HD; 8:00)

††† Four scenes are available here, which can be viewed individually or via a ďPlay AllĒ function. Itís easy to see why this stuff was cut, as itís not overly amusing and doesnít add much to the movie. Hereís what we have:

Gag Reel (HD; 1:00)

††† A very short compilation of bloopers. Not as funny as I had hoped.

Christmas in the Summer (HD; 5:35)

††† A short behind-the-scenes featurette which discusses the Christmas sweaters, shooting in both hot and cold conditions, and the various filming locations around New York City.

The Spirit of Christmas (HD; 3:23)

††† Another generic featurette in which cast and crew talk about Christmas and their seasonal traditions.

Drunkest Santas on the Block (HD; 4:27)

††† A behind-the-scenes segment solely concerned with the short scene involving Jason Mantzoukas and Jason Jones as drunk men in Santa outfits who have a run-in with† Gordon-Levittís character. The on-set footage is mildly amusing due to all the improv.

Midnight Mass With Nana (HD; 4:06)

††† Up next is a closer look at the church scene with an extremely high Rogen. Thereís plenty of on-set footage to see here, with the actors constantly improvising.

Whale Juice (HD; 3:11)

††† Making of the strip club scene with Rogen and Jillian Bell improvising and making one another laugh.

Mr. Green O-Rama (HD; 3:59)

††† Michael Shannonís Mr. Green gets his own featurette here. The majority of this segment involves all the alternate takes of the three leads meeting with the drug dealer. Funny.

Making One Epic Party (HD; 20:22)

††† A good-natured, amusing making-of featurette which mostly consists of behind-the-scenes footage showing various production shenanigans. There isnít a great deal of insight into the production process, but this is still worthwhile.

Previews (HD; 2:36)

††† Despite the plural title, this is only a trailer for The Wedding Ringer.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

† † All editions worldwide are identical in terms of extras, only differing with audio and subtitle options. Buy local.

Summary

††† I wish it was a better movie overall, but I still enjoyed The Night Before to a certain extent. This Blu-ray is fine on the whole, with an effective, respectable presentation and a decent supply of supplements. I do not regret buying this one.

††† The Night Before gets a mild recommendation, though I recommend you rent first before purchasing.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Callum Knox (I studied biology)
Tuesday, July 12, 2016
Review Equipment
DVDPlayStation 4, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 42LW6500. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationLG BH7520TW
SpeakersLG Tall Boy speakers, 5.1 set-up, 180W

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