Ralph Potts reviews this screwball comedy about three best friends that set out to find the Nutcracka Ball – the Holy Grail of Christmas parties – and enter a night of debauchery and hilarity.
The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Sony Pictures – 2015
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 101 minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Video Aspect: 2.40:1
Audio Format(s): English/French DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, Spanish/Thai Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English, English SDH, Cantonese, Chinese, French, Indonesian/Bahasa, Korean, Spanish, Thai
Starring: Seth Rogan, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Anthony Mackie, Lizzy Caplan, Mindy Kaling, Michael Shannon
Directed by: Jonathan Levine
Music by: Marco Beltrami & Miles Hankins
Written by: Jonathan Levine, Kyle Hunter, Ariel Shaffir, Evan Goldberg
Region Code: A,B,C
Blu-ray Disc release Date: March 1, 2016
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.
We are always on the lookout for movies to add to our holiday watch list. There are of course the classics but there is certainly nothing wrong with considering holiday themed flicks that may not achieve classic status but are enjoyable to return to. The Night Before wouldn’t be a film that would garner much interest from me as I generally find Seth Rogan to be annoying, especially in comedies, however the presence of Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Anthony Mackie raised the stakes enough so I went in with an open mind.
I have to say that I found The Night Before to be a pretty good time. I mean there isn’t anything especially original about the plot but the situational humor, dialog and funny bone tickling gags, of the crude and straight forward varieties were laugh out loud entertaining. There is also a non-invasive sprinkling of sentiment and holiday cheer that offsets the overt levels of absurdity. I rather enjoyed the design of the three principle characters and found their umbilical interaction and complimentary moments of tomfoolery to be a hoot. The secondary characters and various cameos work well toward the film’s comedic theme, especially Michael Shannon’s “Mr. Green” who stole every scene he was in.
The Night Before pushes the boundaries of propriety, in a relaxed, crass and entertainingly chaotic way. It probably won’t make it to the top of everyone’s annual watch list but it has been added to the list of holiday themed guilty pleasures we like to watch each year. High praise indeed…
The rating is for drug use and language throughout, some strong sexual content and graphic nudity.
AUDIO/VIDEO – By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100/EXCELLENT = 83-91/GOOD = 74-82/AVERAGE = 65-73/BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency effects:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialog Reproduction:
- Low frequency extension * (non-rated element): NA
- DSU/DTS Neural:X Rating * (non-rated element):
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black Level/Shadow Detail:
- Color Reproduction:
The Night Before comes to Blu-ray Disc from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 25 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 2.3 Mbps.
This is an excellent high definition presentation that is indicative of a newer release film. Detail is readily apparent as images are firmly resolute with crisp edges, defining sharpness, and two dimensional depth that enhances dimension. Colors are beautifully rendered with revealing delineation and tonal warmth. Fleshtones appear lifelike with natural tonality and complexional delineation among the cast. Contrast is boldly applied and blacks exhibit good dynamic range with discernable gradational highlights and excellent depth of field during low level scenes. I didn’t see any overt signs of video related artifacts and found the quality of the video to be high.
The lossless sound mix features definitive front channel separation and clarity. Soundstage depth and imaging across the left, right and center channels is quite good. This enhances directional sounds and dialogue, allowing deep room penetration, high level perception of detail, and appropriate near field placement. The surround channels effectively extend the front soundstage by adding spatial ambience, directional pans and discrete sound placement. Dynamics and low frequency effects have solid weight and tangible authority that resonate well in the room. The combination enhances the film’s active segments and results in a decent surround sound experience.
- (HD) *Exclusive* 4 Deleted/Extended Scenes
- (HD) *Exclusive* Mr. Green Line-O-Rama – 4 minutes
- (HD) *Exclusive* Christmas in Summer – 5 minute featurette
- (HD) Gag Reel – 2 minutes
- (HD) Making One Epic Party: 20 Minutes of On-Set Shenanigans
- (HD) Four Featurettes (Totaling 14 minutes):
- The Spirit of Christmas
- Drunkest Santas on the Block
- Whale Juice: Extended Strip Club Scene
- Midnight Mass with Nana
- Digital HD Copy
The Night Before is raucous, a bit inane and pushes the boundaries of propriety, but is cleverly derived and ultimately funny enough to be entertaining when you’re in the mood for an off color holiday themed comedy. It comes to Blu-ray from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment in a solid package that includes excellent high definition audio/video and a fan friendly assortment of bonus supplements that features Blu-ray exclusive content. The Night Before probably isn’t for everyone but is worth checking out especially for fans that get a kick out of its brand of humor.
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