The One Where We Watch “The Night Before”

About the Film

Title: The Night Before
Year released: 2015
Stars: Seth Rogen, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Anthony Mackie
What happens: Loosely, three best buds try to find the coolest Christmas party ever. Hijinks ensue.
Rotten Tomatoes: 66%
Our thesis: This movie probably isn’t fantastic (frankly, we saw it in theaters and can’t remember a thing), but we’ll get some chuckles and a little Christmas in April. What better way to celebrate the resurrection of Christ? Happy Easter, folks.

Warning: Spoilers below this point!!!

Plot appears in italics (source: Wikipedia) for those not well-versed in the film (or watching along, which could be fun).

Joseph Gordon Levitt;Seth Rogen


In December 2001, Ethan Miller (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) loses both of his parents in a car accident. Isaac Greenberg (Seth Rogen) and Chris Roberts (Anthony Mackie), Ethan’s best friends, resolve to spend every Christmas Eve with Ethan. Along the way, the friends learn of the Nutcracker Ball, a tremendous, invite-only Christmas Eve party. Unable to find the party, the friends continue with their tradition.

BRETT: Ooh, jingle bells
JIM: This opening is cute.
BRETT: Who is that narrating?
JIM: Tracy Morgan
BRETT: Are you sure?
JIM: Yes.
BRETT: I’m gonna look it up
JIM: It’s Tracy Morgan.
JIM: Ugh, Seth Rogen’s Beard dred
BRETT: Gross
BRETT: Oof, the rhyming is like… B plus at best
JIM: B minus.

In 2015, the friends decide to end the tradition. Chris has become a famous football player and Isaac is married with a baby on the way. Privately, Chris and Isaac worry that Ethan, a struggling musician working at a hotel, is not ready for the tradition to end. At the hotel, Ethan finds and steals invitations to the Nutcracker Ball.

BRETT: Did I miss something? He’s an elf now
JIM: A 33-year-old elf waiter
JIM: Ooh, this man has an expensive coat. Sounds like a plot point to me.
JIM: I went to the Nutcracker Ball once
BRETT: Yeah? What was it like?
JIM: Too much cheese.
BRETT: No such thing!
JIM: You’d be surprised…

Later, the friends meet at Isaac’s house before going out on their last Christmas Eve together. Prior to leaving, Isaac’s wife Betsy (Jillian Bell) gives him drugs to use during the evening since he has been so supportive during her pregnancy.

BRETT: He’s worse than you at a party
BRETT: Hey, it’s that guy from Marvel things!
JIM: Anthony Mackie. Is he playing himself in this movie?
JIM: I… I don’t know. Sigh.
JIM: Oh man, I want that drug box!

The friends leave to follow their traditional stops with the intention of going to the party afterward. Their first stop is the Rockefeller Center Tree. While at the tree, Ethan reveals the tickets to the ball.

BRETT: What does Anthony Mackie do here? Is he an actor? Did they say?
JIM: I think he’s a sports guy.
JIM: Hello, product placement
BRETT: I’m starting to get the feeling JGL and Diana had some sort of… fraught relationship
JIM: What gave you that idea?

BRETT: What time is it now there? It gets dark so early in the winter
BRETT: Dark like my soul
JIM: Hey, you OK man?

Along the way, Chris, in an attempt to impress his teammates, purchases marijuana from their former high school dealer, Mr. Green (Michael Shannon). While making the purchase, Mr. Green shares the weed with Chris, calling the strain of bud “The Present”.

JIM: Tommy Owens? Is that a real sport person?
BRETT: I want a joint
BRETT: Is this going to be another time travel movie?
JIM: That would be fun
JIM: But I think it’s more of an interpersonal drama
BRETT: Ooooooooh
JIM: Top notch casting
BRETT: What’s his name?
JIM: Um Scary Man
BRETT: No it’s…
BRETT: Michael something
JIM: He plays football
JIM: How does he not know what oregano is?
BRETT: How does he not know his best friend is Batman?
JIM: You mean Robin.
BRETT: Is Robin an orphan?
JIM: Yeah, pretty sure. Also he played Robin in the movie
BRETT: Oh yeah.

While at a karaoke bar, the friends run into Diana (Lizzy Caplan), who recently broke up with Ethan for refusing to commit. She’s with her friend Sarah (Mindy Kaling). The friends learn that Diana and Sarah will be at the Nutcracker Ball too. While at the bar, Isaac begins to be negatively affected by the drugs he took, resulting in him making a video phone message admitting that he’s terrified of having a child. Chris has his marijuana stolen by a supposed fan (Ilana Glazer) who is a Christmas-hating thief.

JIM: Why are all these people so excited by these dudes?
BRETT: He’s an athlete
JIM: Sounds like he’s a B list athlete at BEST
JIM: This crowd is way too big
BRETT: You guys have a nice connection? Do people say that?
JIM: We have a nice connection.
BRETT: Batman has a nice connection
BRETT: With the dark

JIM: I have left this exact same message for myself.
BRETT: Babies suck.

BRETT: Have you caught any plot happening in this movie yet? I feel like it’s a string of cameos and holiday things
JIM: It’s not unfunny I just… don’t know why it’s happening.
BRETT: Why does anything happen in this life?
BRETT: Do you think this movie was just all improvised?
JIM: Yes
JIM: Definitely
JIM: Yes
JIM: That explains everything

BRETT: I feel sad
JIM: What? Why?
BRETT: This movie

Needing more marijuana, the guys contact Mr. Green again, who meets them at Chris’ mother’s (Lorraine Toussaint) house. This time, Isaac meets Mr. Green to buy the marijuana. The magical weed, “The Future”, shows him a future where his daughter is a stripper and his wife blames him for it. Isaac returns to the house and they have dinner cooked by Chris’ mother, who encourages Ethan to make up with Diana. During dinner, Isaac realizes that he accidentally switched phones with Sarah.

BRETT: I have that same shrine
JIM: To Anthony Mackie?
BRETT: No, mine’s to you
JIM: Aww
JIM: I’d love that
BRETT: I know you would
BRETT: You’re so vain
BRETT: I bet you think this shrine is about you
JIM: Seems like he thinks a lot about sexuality
BRETT: Ha, yeah, this movie is just a subtle reflection on sexuality. Noooot.

JIM: You know, why listen to the critics when you could just not?
BRETT: James. Do you think it’ll be James Franco?
JIM: It’s gotta be, right?
BRETT: You wanna know how it ends?
JIM: Sure
BRETT: Everyone dies
BRETT: But that would be dope right? (47:00)



While trying to find Isaac’s phone, the same thief steals Chris’ marijuana again. The three friends split up as Chris wants his marijuana back, Isaac wants his phone, and Ethan wants to go to the party. Chris fails to regain his marijuana but learns about valuing his true friends from the thief.

JIM: She is stealing EVERYTHING
BRETT: Is she the… villain?
JIM: I think the villain in this is time
JIM: I mean, and maybe her a bit
BRETT: Time in that we’re not at the halfway mark yet?
JIM: Ice cold, bro.
BRETT: Is the chauffer someone? I recognize him
JIM: I think he’s a comedian or something
BRETT: Well, that helps, thanks
JIM: So let’s review. the plot is: JGL wants to go to a party and get Lizzy Caplan back, Seth Rogen is very high and afraid of having a baby, Anthony Mackie is a somewhat famous football player.
JIM: Also, they’re breaking up their Christmas tradition for reasons
BRETT: Reasons.

Isaac, hallucinating from the mixture of drugs he keeps consuming, meets his wife and her family during Midnight Mass.

JIM: Well, this is a coincidence, Seth Rogen’s wife is here.
JIM: Is she mad? She gave him the drugs!
BRETT: No she’s not mad, she’s cool
JIM: Oh sorry, I just assumed it would be a regular Seth Rogen movie
JIM: Do you think he’ll make her mad at some point
BRETT: I mean, he should not go in that church

Ethan ends up getting beaten up by two drunk pub-crawling Santas after trying to defend the spirit of Christmas.

BRETT: Santacon doesn’t happen on Xmas eve that’s dumb
JIM: Ugh, Santacon
JIM: The worst
BRETT: The worst
JIM: Although this seems like the writer pontificating on Santacon (56:02)
BRETT: Oh boy, the halfway mark whizzed by us there

Isaac becomes scared that the Christians think he killed Jesus and vomits in church.

BRETT: Back to church
JIM: I feel like I’m hallucinating watching this movie
BRETT: Oh, is he Jewish?
BRETT: I hate this
BRETT: I hate this scene
BRETT: Why did this scene have to happen
JIM: She’s so funny though
BRETT: What did Christmas do to deserve this church scene

When they meet back up at a subway station, the tension between the friends explodes. Ethan reveals that he and Isaac know that Chris’ sudden success and popularity is due to steroids and Chris reveals that he and Isaac think that Ethan is lost and making excuses for himself.

JIM: They all found each other!
BRETT: It’s a Christmas miracle!
JIM: Now that is not something I thought I would see in this movie
JIM: Guys fighting about their interpersonal relationships
JIM: Friendship
JIM: The Passage of Time
BRETT: Batman…
JIM: Ugh

Despite arguing, the three friends still go to the Nutcracker Ball. Upon arrival, Chris learns that his teammates did not need the marijuana he struggled to obtain. Isaac retrieves his phone and learns that Sarah never saw the video message he recorded. Ethan finds Diana and, in an improvised moment, proposes to her in front of the entire party. While she accepts publicly, in private, she declines, saying she only said yes because he put her on the spot. She thinks the only reason he proposed is that he’s afraid of losing his friends.

JIM: Love the lighting here
BRETT: That’s how you know it’s a good movie
BRETT: When you’re thinking about how they lit it
JIM: What if the rest of this movie was just The Polar Express?
BRETT: That would be dope
BRETT: God I would love it if this had an original song by Josh Groban
JIM: What if they did all die at the end?
BRETT: Seth Rogen would never
JIM: I mean it’s too late now I think
BRETT: That would be a huge turn
JIM: Fuck, I hate this
BRETT: I kind of love it. In a hate sort of way
BRETT: I stand by my original theory
BRETT: This is a vehicle for cameos with a bunch of improv thrown in
JIM: They probably wrote this scene
BRETT: With Miley?
JIM: Yeah
JIM: I don’t feel like Miley Cyrus improvises
JIM: Ugh
BRETT: Why is this movie happening?
BRETT: Who… am I?
JIM: Seriously, are you OK?
BRETT: Yeah, I’m just drunk
JIM: Shh, Miley’s singing
JIM: This movie is from 2015 so
JIM: JGL was at his height
JIM: Well, except 3rd Rock from the Sun
BRETT: Best show.
JIM: Best show.
JIM: Ugh no please don’t propose to her!!
BRETT: She’s going to say no

BRETT: Oh boy
BRETT: High Seth Rogen is such a klutz
JIM: I don’t see them getting invited back to this party



Embarrassed, Ethan goes to the roof where he runs into Mr. Green. Mr. Green reveals that he created and has hosted the Nutcracker Ball since its inception. Mr. Green shares a strain of marijuana with Ethan he calls “The Past”. Ethan relives the memory of his friends initiating their yearly ritual. Ethan rejoins his friends, who have been thrown out of the party after an altercation with Chris’ teammates.

BRETT: Wow, New York is such a small world.
JIM: Yeah, true.
BRETT: I kind of love the Gatsby reference.
JIM: I feel like I’m this guy.
BRETT: Mr. Green?
BRETT: You’re not as cool as Mr. Green
JIM: Yeah. No one is.

As morning dawns, the friends reconcile. Just then, Isaac receives a message from Betsy that she is in labor. Rushing to the hospital in Mr. Green’s conveniently available car, the friends discover that it was a false alarm. Mr. Green is revealed to be an angel who has been helping the friends to earn his wings.

JIM: Oh what the fuck

Isaac shows his wife the video. She admits that she is also nervous about raising their daughter.

BRETT: This happened to me one time
JIM: You called your baby a c-word and your wife laughed?
BRETT: No I got high and went on a spirit quest
BRETT: I made a lawn gnome my guardian
JIM: That sounds nice.

The trio spends Christmas at Isaac’s house. After, Chris has dinner with his mother and admits to his steroid use. Ethan goes to Diana’s house where he apologizes for how he acted and for not being ready to commit sooner. Diana admits she missed Ethan and grants his request to finally meet her parents.

BRETT: This movie is sad
JIM: Is it?
BRETT: Yeah, sort of
BRETT: These movies could be so good if they just stopped trying so hard to be funny
JIM: Just like 40% less humor
JIM: That’s what makes a good comedy
BRETT: Well, this is nice, everyone’s happy
BRETT: ish

One year later, the friends and their loved ones spend Christmas together. They are happy and still friends. Isaac’s baby cannot sleep, so the trio serenades her.

BRETT: Oh good, Anthony Mackie ended up with his mother.
JIM: This singing would not put me to sleep
BRETT: But they stayed friends so…
BRETT: That’s good

It is revealed that the story was all told from a book read by Santa.

BRETT: Here’s Tracy Morgan!
BRETT: He’s my best friend
JIM: I thought I was your best friend
BRETT: Nope. Sorry

In Conclusion

BRETT: Well, I guess that’s that.
JIM: Merry Christmas.
BRETT: Happy Easter.
JIM: Pesach Sameach.
JIM: What have we learned?
BRETT: Seth Rogen is a douche.
JIM: Brett is Batman?
JIM: Michael Shannon is an angel.
BRETT: Truly.
BRETT: This was definitely the worst of the recent Batman movies.
JIM: Not counting any of the ones with Ben Affleck.
BRETT: Right.
JIM: Conclusion: you can probably skip this one. Rating?
JIM: I’d give it a B.
BRETT: I need to go to bed. I feel terrible
JIM: What’s our next movie?
BRETT: Let’s do something quality next time.
JIM: Something we can really sink our teeth into
BRETT: A masterpiece of artistry
JIM: Sandy Wexler?