The Night Before

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
The Night Before Movie Poster Image
Holiday comedy is extremely vulgar but still kind of sweet.
  • R
  • 2015
  • 101 minutes

Parents say

age 18+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 16+
Based on 7 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Amid the iffy stuff, he three friends struggle with personal problems (commitment, responsibility, consequences for your actions) and learn to trust and confide in one another. They learn that their friendship is important and should be trusted to survive despite family, relationship, and work demands.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Even though the characters work to keep their friendship going -- and they're all nice guys -- their behavior in the movie is very iffy, with no real repercussions.

Violence

Violence played for laughs includes a chase, with painful-looking falls; a brief fist fight; a runaway horse dragging a man; a man stabbed through the hand; a bloody nose (with blood dripping into a drink). Also yelling, shouting.

Sex

A couple has sex in a public bathroom (no graphic nudity, but different positions are shown). Brief shot of topless women in a strip club. Naked penis pictures on a phone. Naked male bottom shown from the side. Strong innuendo/sex talk.

Language

Very strong language, with extremely frequent uses of "f--k," "motherf----r," "s--t," "c--k," "p---y," "a--hole," "bitch," "balls," "a--hole," "jizz," "vagina," "d--k," "douchebag," "crackheads," etc. -- plus "Jesus" (as an exclamation).

Consumerism

Red Bull is mentioned and shown frequently. A Sony Xperia Z Ultra smartphone is shown several times and mentioned by name. Apple iPhones are shown. Craigslist mentioned. Nintendo '64 is mentioned (specifically Goldeneye 007).

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Main characters drink alcohol and use drugs (mushrooms, cocaine, pot, etc.) throughout (it's indicated that this behavior is an exception to the norm). A character has extreme, comical reactions to the drugs. A character uses performance-enhancing steroids. A secondary character is a drug dealer. A character's parents were killed by a drunk driver.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Night Before is a "hard R" comedy set on Christmas Eve that stars Seth Rogen, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Anthony Mackie. It's filled with iffy/unsafe behavior, not necessarily with any consequences -- but the main characters do learn to become responsible and to trust one another. There's a brief sex scene, and naked breasts are shown in a strip club; plus, there are penis pictures on a phone and lots of heavy innuendo throughout the movie. One main character takes lots of drugs -- including mushrooms, cocaine, and pot -- and has extreme, intended-to-be-comical reactions to them. A secondary character is a drug dealer, and there's also quite a bit of drinking. Language is very strong and constant, with uses of "f--k," "s--t," "c--k," "p---y," and much more. Some violent moments/dangerous situations are played for laughs, including chases, fights, and a stabbing, with a little blood shown. Characters pee and throw up in public.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byBlackWidow97 November 20, 2015

Raunchy film has heart for older viewers

This film features a cast of odd-balls that all have fairly strong character growth. Almost every scene involves drug-use especially surrounding Rogan's I... Continue reading
Adult Written bymandarinamom February 27, 2016

Condoning drug use

Wrapping drug use with a "feel good" "sweet" movie about friendship is a very smart way to market the product that is causing a dangerous ep... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written byStevie111 November 20, 2015

Very Funny and Sweet Christmas Comedy

This film, though raunchy and filled with drug use, had a nice story and nice messages. Overall, it was really good. It is best suited for older audiences due t... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old November 22, 2015

Great Movie for Teens and Adults

The Night Before is a fast-paced comedy about friendship and love. It faces important dilemmas from the point of view of the the characters going through said p... Continue reading

What's the story?

In 2001, Ethan (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) lost his parents in a drunk-driving accident. So on that Christmas Eve, his best friends, Isaac (Seth Rogen) and Chris (Anthony Mackie), tried to cheer him up with an evening of fun. That evening turned into an annual tradition, with more drinking and debauchery added each year. Plus, the friends have always searched for the ultimate Christmas party -- known as the Nutcracker Ball -- and this year, Ethan has actually procured three tickets. This is also their final year of holiday debauchery, as Isaac is about to become a father, and Chris is too easily recognized as a football star. Armed with drugs and a limo, the friends must survive a night in the big city, deal with their own fears and insecurities, and keep their friendship together.

Is it any good?

Naughty Christmas comedies are fairly common, and this one doesn't offer much that hasn't been done before, but the bond between the three characters, and a love of Christmas, make it worth seeing. Director/co-writer Jonathan Levine previously moderated male bonding between Gordon-Levitt and Rogen in the terrific 50/50, and he effortlessly brings that level of affection and care to the three men here. They compliment each other nicely, like the three corners of a triangle.

Unfortunately, the humor in the movie doesn't quite take off. It's based on the very simple arcs that each character goes through separately; it's plenty naughty, but it's not terribly surprising. The humor in the similar A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas worked better because it was cleverly balanced between zaniness and sanity. Still, a couple of giggles and a genuine affection eventually save the day and make THE NIGHT BEFORE a stocking stuffer worth opening.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how drinking and drugs are depicted in The Night Before. Are they glamorized? Does the movie make them look like fun, or do the characters pay a price? What would the real-life consequences be?

  • How can a holiday movie be so filled with problematic behavior and still feel so heartwarming? Can you think of other movies that attempt the same balance? Does it work?

  • How does the movie handle sex, nudity, and innuendo? Parents, talk to your teens about your own values regarding sex and relationships.

  • How does the film portray friendship? Do you think it's realistic? Teens: How do you anticipate your friendships changing as you get older?

  • Have you ever felt unwilling or unable to take on certain responsibilities? How or why? What happened?

Movie details

Themes & Topics

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For kids who love comedy and the holidays

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