Character actor Michael Shannon has been nominated for his second Oscar for his role in the 2016 thriller Nocturnal Animals. "No Small Parts" takes a look at some of the other characters he's played in the past.
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. Written by
Sony Pictures Entertainment
When Ethan, Isaac and Chris are all dancing on the Big Piano at FAO Schwarz, the song they perform is 'Runaway' by Kanye West featuring Pusha T. See more »
When Ethan, Iassac, and Chris are going to see Betsy in the hospital and they find Mr. Greens car you can see in the background where they did not completely snow the ground where there should be snow. This film was shot in the middle of August in New York City so all snow had to be created. See more »
You have been such a ROCK throughout this whole pregnancy. You are like my DWAYNE JOHNSON.
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The movie opens with the 1981 Columbia Pictures logo. See more »
Who doesn't love Christmas movies? Me. I don't, with the exception of NATIONAL LAMPOON'S Christmas VACATION and A VERY HAROLD & KUMAR Christmas. Most Christmas movies are nauseatingly saccharine or insultingly inane. Probably because the target audience is generally kids or families. But why should they have the Christmas movie racket cornered? I want more holiday cheer for people like me: cynical, reveling in the absurd, and occasionally inebriated. Enter THE NIGHT BEFORE, from director Jonathan Levine. It's the tale of three friends: Ethan (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), Isaac (Seth Rogen), and Chris (Anthony Mackie) and their annual tradition of getting together on Christmas Eve for a night of drunken debauchery and a celebration of their long-lasting friendship. This particular year, though, the tradition has reached a breaking point. Isaac is getting ready to start a family and Chris's football career has launched him to celebrity status. Ethan, whose life has stagnated, is the only one keen on continuing their Christmas Eve antics and a lucky break leads him to "acquire" tickets to an infamous underground Christmas party .the party to end all parties the Nutcracker Ball. The trio gets together, don their Christmas sweaters, and set out for one last insane night in New York City where everything that can go wrong will go wrong. Meanwhile, the three of them are each confronted by a mystical marijuana dealer and forced to confront their past, present, or future (because Christmas). THE NIGHT BEFORE, while entertaining, doesn't stand out and probably won't be remembered long.
Jonathan Levine is the director behind the 2011 comedy/drama 50/50 in which Seth Rogen helps best friend Joseph Gordon-Levitt cope with a cancer diagnosis. It's an occasional tear-jerker with bouts of humor in the same vein as Rogen's other work, though generally not as crude. It was good. Not great, but good. The same can be said for THE NIGHT BEFORE. The most effective element that I remember from 50/50 was the dramatic moments. I can remember some of the more heart-wrenching moments but, looking back, I couldn't tell you one particular moment that had me laughing. THE NIGHT BEFORE is sort of the opposite. It's got those heartfelt moments. The character of Ethan is pretty relatable and his struggles are familiar. His parents died during the holidays (which set off the guys' current tradition when Isaac and Chris came to the rescue as a surrogate), he's single (his last relationship, which he continues to dwell on, fell apart when he couldn't bring himself to meet his girlfriend's parents), and he's aimless. He doesn't have a career his more successful friends; Isaac is a moderately successful lawyer and Chris is a football player with the NFL. When we're introduced to him, he's working a crappy gig as a server dressed as a Christmas elf for a wealthy party. All he has left are his friends and this tradition, and they're ready to move on. In related subplots, his friends are dealing with their own crises. Isaac is panicking at the idea of being a father and Chris is coming to grips with the fact that his sudden success in the NFL is a lie (i.e. steroids). Their stories are told well but nothing is particularly engaging about any of it. I guarantee, a year or so down the line, I won't remember any of these holiday-worthy heartfelt stories. I'll just remember Seth Rogen on a crap-load of drugs.
It's just one of a handful of running gags throughout the movie but it's probably the most memorable. Isaac's wife (played by Jillian Bell) is proud of how well he's handled his impending fatherhood and, as a Christmas gift, gives him a small box containing, well, every drug. Weed, ecstasy, psilocybin mushrooms, etc. He's meant to share it with the group but ends up consuming the entire box himself over the course of the night and has an admittedly hilarious drug-fueled spirit quest. My favorite scene in the movie is probably when he's whacked out on mushrooms and accidentally finds himself in church for midnight mass with his sister and her family members. Another highlight is Michael Shannon's role as the trio's drug dealer, Mr. Green. I wasn't expecting Shannon and I love that he's capable of having stupid fun in the occasional comedy (see also: the second ANCHORMAN movie) as much as he is delivering powerhouse performances. Shannon's inclusion and Rogen's drug-frenzy are about the only things that stand out in this otherwise amusing but totally forgettable movie. THE NIGHT BEFORE has all the elements in place for the sort of Christmas comedy I'm looking for but so much of it goes to waste. I can watch it and enjoy it in the moment, but there's nothing special here that'll keep me coming back every holiday season for some yuletide laughs. If you've not seen it and are wondering if it's worth your time, I'd say sure. It's collected a great comedy cast and there are some solid moments in there. Something's bound to get a chuckle from you.
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