The Night Before

“This is the kind of movie that’s so bad, you gotta tell someone about it.” Can’t take credit for that, as it was my viewing companion, but she’s dead-on. The Night Before is a putative Christmas comedy that’s putrid in execution and puts the rank in rank amateur.

Three stoner dramatis personae have a tradition, as mindless as whoever concocted this as a plot device: to hang out and get blotto together on Christmas (and also to try and seek passage to an exclusive party, The Nutcrackers Ball).

Their leader is soon-to-be-dad Isaac (a frumpy-dump Seth Rogan), so if this is a Hero’s Journey, this is more of the sandwich variety. Milking the lazy stupefied Peter Pan-t-load mien he’s come to adopt in just about everything, Rogan’s Isaac is terrified at the prospect of growing up and pending fatherhood. His wife, sensing this, enables Isaac in a kind of last night of freedom: giving him a container full of pharmaceuticals so he and his pals can cut loose Hangover-style, minus the charm, direction or the comic timing.

That an 8 month-along mom-to-be would do something that stupid beggars belief, but even dumber, that her “rock,” (“Like Dwayne Johnson”, she ‘jokes’. Seinfeld eat your heart out) would actually indulge….well, that’s the set up, for a movie that’s so tonally off, it needs a tuning fork, and is about as enjoyable as a set of cymbals clanged upside your noggin.

The usually reliable Joseph Gordon Levitt (Ethan) cuts a wan, labored Kevin Spacey figure as a loser who’s still hung up on an ex years later and resorts to side hustle work as a Santa elf (he’s even the butt of a joke: “a 33-year old elf?” In terms of age-inappropriate behavior, though, he gets off easy)

And to round out the idiot triumvirate (the name “Three Stooges” is already taken) is Chris (Anthony Mackie), a star NFLer, who — and kudos here for the realism — is suddenly a breakout star due to banned substances.

The Night Before features repugnant bathroom sex, steroid abuse, dick pics, a nose-bleed into a Martini, projectile vomiting during midnight mass, and a host of indignities too numerous to be unaccompanied by even the slimmest shred of wit or joy. And also James Franco and Miley Cyrus. The state rests, your honor.

As willfully ugly as a Christmas sweater, and as actively repellent as any comedy ever made.

* (out of 5)

The Really Awful Movies Podcast

Smart talk, dumb movies? That’s not a bad description. The Really Awful Movies Podcast is a celebration of genre cinema of all stripes, with a focus on horror. If you like what you read here, or in print (our acclaimed book, Death by Umbrella!) you’ll (hopefully) like what’s being talked about there.

Every week on the show, Jeff and I get down to the business of critiquing films that occasionally get short-shrift from the mainstream. Despite our name (derived from a phrase one of our mothers used to describe a burgeoning interest in horror, “why do you have to watch those awful movies?”) we are relentlessly positive, silver lining types. Even as we fire broadsides, we pull back and offer praise and constructive criticism (something lacking in movie criticism).

Over the course of hundreds of episodes, we have explored everything from misguided musicals (Xanadu), to lurid Italian cannibal movies (Cannibal Ferox), meatheaded action flicks (Shotgun), and even silent surrealist films (Un Chien Andalou).

The beauty about our mandate is we’re never pigeonholed. As much as we could chat about our favorite slashers week after week, we have the luxury of pulling back and delving into film noir, like we did with D.O.A., or peeling back the curtain for some 70s exploitation (The Baby).

We realize that time is precious. When we started The Really Awful Movies Podcast, we wanted to create bite-sized morsels rather than buffet-style entrees. As a result (with a few exceptions), our episodes are roughly 30-45 minutes in length. We cut right to the core, with some extemporaneous personal anecdotes and detours as we see fit. Mostly though, we place our focus where it should be: on the film.

You may have wondered about our banner…The Lamberto Bava film, Demons, is a mutual favorite. It’s a perfect combination of hilarity and horror, a lunk-headed oddity that is impossible not to love. And those three demons on the poster capture the spirit of the film  (and our podcast) perfectly, even if there are only two of us (we have a guest on occasion, so there’s room for a third).

If you’d like to subscribe to The Really Awful Movies Podcast, we’d really appreciate it. We’re not big on Patreon. Instead, we urge listeners to grab copies of our book (soon to be plural – update to come) to support us.

Thanks for listening! And thanks for reading too, we update Really Awful Movies as humanly possible.

Best,

Chris & Jeff