Sunday, November 22, 2015

That's a boss hog.

It's strange that I'm now the one steering the ship when it comes to familial holiday traditions. Well, co-steering the ship. Fine, along for the ride on. er, running alongside choking on my own tears. 

Anyway, as Dad, the only innovation I've offered up - going to the movies Christmas Day - crashed and burned after only one attempt (though utter failure does seem to occur annually). And as a kid, it was only marginally better.

In fact, the only thing I really look back on and remember from my youth, is this annual Christmas football game we used to hold in our yard. We grew up in Texas, so the weather was warm-ish, and post-Christmas morning was that time where all the neighborhood kids, coming down off that plastic packaging high, would shuffle up and down the street to our house on the corner of Cartwright and MacArthur. We might play five-on-five, but it might swell to ten against ten. It was a pretty f--king great time, the more I think about it, but there was one problem:

It never ended well. But more on that later...

The Night Before isn't about a bunch of fat kids playing football on Christmas Day, but it could be about them twenty years later. Set on Christmas Eve, Jonathan Levine's holiday comedy is a story about three childhood friends ending the Christmas tradition they started fourteen years prior. It's consistently vulgar, intermittently hilarious, and momentarily heart-breaking. But starring the trio of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Anthony Mackie and Seth Rogen, it's entirely enjoyable, too.

JGL's Ethan is floundering through his early thirties. Haunted by the tragic events of a decade and a half ago, he seems to come alive only for the Christmas tradition put on by his best friends, Isaac and Chris (Rogen and Mackie, respectively). See, each Christmas Eve, these three guys run all over New York City in hopes of ending up at a mythical party known as the Nutcracker Ball. While it's usually Chinese Food, karaoke, and mild disappointment, this year it's finally happened: they've scored three invitations. But now they've got to score some drugs, too. Well, more drugs.

Chris just so happens to be a burgeoning NFL star, and it's up to him to score some weed for the team's goldenboy-quarterback, The Messiah. While this ultimately doesn't matter to the story (outside of endlessly pissing off Ethan), it allows us to spend some time with the trio's old high-school dealer, Mr. Green. This dude is a rather mysterious fellow, and he offers not only The Weed of Christmas Present, but lots of stoner-wisdom.

Uh, his wife is pretty cool (for a dragon).
Assuming he doesn't kill himself. 
Mr. Green, played by Michael Shannon, commands the screen with such quiet intensity, I almost couldn't handle it. He's so f--king great here, his screen-time is likely worth the price of admission alone. Also kicking heaps of ass is Rogen, who gets probably three-quarters of all the laughs. Isaac is that typically gentle heh heh dude that Rogen does so well, but after taking entirely too many drugs, he spends the whole flick trying to keep it together. It's nice to see him not be the straight man for a change (I might mean that literally, too).

While maybe not the new-school Christmas classic that some might have been hoping for, I will definitely be willing to fire up The Night Before for future holiday-viewings. Hell, society is so deep in the shitter, I wouldn't be surprised if this one's on NBC next year, followed by a live musical version of Die Hard. Okay, it's not that bad, but damn, once you have kids, you really become an oversensitive asshole to what's on TV. I'm sorry, oversensitive poopiehead.

Also a further sign of societal erosion, here are the Yays and Boos. Though being they only exist in written form, let's be honest, no kids will ever be exposed to them. Phew.

Okay, f--k you. I've belted it out before, too. Just once...
...or twice. Fine. Every time.
  • You had me at elf-face. Is it wrong that I find Gordo-Levitt f--king handsome? Oh, I forgot. It's pretty much state-law, so no, I'm good.
  • Tracy Morgan, welcome back.
  • Dude, that Wu-Tang Christmas sweater was so dope. Oh, nevermind. I just found it at Urban Outfitters. Lame.
  • Yes, the Red Bull Limo was kind of cool. But the Red Bull Limo Driver? Give that f--ker his own movie!
  • Suck a dick, Chopsticks. All I want for Christmas is a trip to FAO Schwartz to rock the f--k outta Runaway on the giant keyboard.
  • Rogen has so many freakouts it's hard to pick the best one. While the one at the karaoke place was great, I think I'm going to go with the one in the back of the limo. Check yourself...Isaac. Before you wreck yourself. (wow, that is really hurtful, right?)
  • I didn't have a Nintendo 64, but even I recognize the endless power of Goldeneye. There was one kid's house I think the whole neighborhood went to. No, seriously. Everyone was there.
  • Chris' mom was great. Even with that weird shrine to her (still alive) son.
  • Jesus, man. It's a dope dick.
  • That party entrance scene was so f--king rad. Honestly, I might put up with all the bullshit of being cool and living in NYC just for a chance to enter a party like that. Wow.
  • Look, I'm gonna just f--king say it, okay? I totally have a hard on for Miley Cyrus' Party in the USA (I pretty much turn into an eleven year-old girl when that f--ker comes on). It's pretty fierce, my adoration, not my...anyway. That's it. That's all I like about this chick. Well...until now. Dammit.
  • Wait, was that? A passionate kiss and a happy ending? That's possible in a movie? Well, f--k you Once [review]. I knew it was possible.
  • And finally, and I don't mean this to be a dick at all, honestly, but let me put my hands together for the ladies in this film. While I'm sure the foursome of Mindy Kaling, Jillian Bell, Lizzy Caplan and Ilana Glazer are actually all talented and attractive women in real life, in this film? They remain the objects of desire for our fellas without being Hollywood's version of super-f--king hot. They're just regular chicks, and I dig the f--k out of that.

My wife turned to me at the end and said:
I think I got a crush on Joesph Gordon-Levitt. 
(yeah, no shit)
  • It makes me cringe just thinking about that martini. (but I laughed my ass off, too)
  • Hey, Mackie. That's at least two movies I've seen you sticking a needle into your ass. Knock that shit off.
  • You're a mean one, Mrs. Grinch. Damn, this bitch is crazy. Yeah, she'll f--k the shit out of you, literally, but that she'll also Home Alone you, too. I mean, who carries Micro Machines in their pockets anymore. Well, besides me...starting tomorrow.
  • Denied under the mistletoe. Now, in high school my Spanish teacher hung some in her doorway, so I've seen it before, but I'm pretty sure Diana could have hooked up our boy, you know? 
  • That was a lot of dick pics, James. Though even one would have been too much...
  • And finally, the guy in front of me who brought his grandmother. No shit, this dude, probably a little younger than myself, took his grandmother by the hand, and sat that old-schooler down for some new school raunchiness. Look, maybe Grandma likes hearing jizz all over me!, people crucifying the Messiah and an unending cavalcade of giant dick shots, but I'm not gonna lie. There were times where I felt bad for laughing at all of this shit. Party foul, man. Even if your heart was in the right place, where the f--k was your head at?
So back when we played those games, well, just like the movie, it all started out innocently enough. But every year, every single year, some asshole would show up to the game wearing something he just got on Christmas morning. It's the eighties, and it's Texas, so this likely meant one of two things: a new Polo shirt, or a gold chain. 

And sure as shit, that kid? That kid would utterly f--king destroy whatever he was wearing. Shirts would get torn or covered in grass and mud. Gold chains? Snapped, bent, or broken into countless pieces. And then that dude, and whatever little brother or random friend he brought, those bastards would head home in tears, ending our game on the spot. 

Once again, even though holiday traditions are about kids, they end up ruining everything. And now that I've got my own kids, clearly parents aren't really that much better. But worse? Well, that's an obvious one.

F--king grandparents


  1. There is absolutely nothing wrong with finding JGL handsome. Since you're talking about a vulgar movie, I have no qualms about saying I'd like to sit on his face.

    I really want to see this, I hate that it came out the one week where I can't get to the theater right away. I'm glad it was good. Great review!

    1. Wow. Just....yes. Everything about that first part, not only speaks to the joys of the holiday season, but quite frankly, what this blog stands for. Sorry...I've got something in my eye....

      Hahaha. I hope you get to see it. I felt like a badass for seeing something so close to its release date. It's like I'm a functioning member of society. my head anyway.

  2. "maybe Grandma likes hearing jizz all over me!, people crucifying the Messiah and an unending cavalcade of giant dick shots" - I'm at work but I laughed out loud when I read that :)

    I love almost everything Rogen does (except you Observe and Report) so I'm in especially that it's finally that wonderful time someone got Shannon in comedy. I remember years back Rogen was hosting Independent Spirit awards and joked that this ceremony is low key so instead of shots of glamorous people they will have shots of Shannon looking menacing *cue to shot of Shannon holding a knife in the audience*

    1. Ha, thanks. Honestly, that lady saw enough pecker to last her for the rest of her life. Granted...

      That's funny that you mentioned Observe and Report, because yeah, that movie was pretty much a shit show. I actually took my wife to that one in the theater. What I was thinking? No idea, really.

      Shannon is incredible. I've always loved that guy, but it was awesome to see him in this weird comedic role. More of that, please.

  3. Who doesn't have a crush on JGL? Though I am seeing Britt in a whole new light after that comment.

    Glad to see this isn't terrible. Rogen has actually been on a bit of a roll so good for him. That said, Grandma sitting in front of you was clearly the best part. I'm guessing dude saw the trailer, laughed at the Home Alone joke, and thought he had a nice family-ish Christmas flick. Oops.

    1. Phew. Glad you're in on the JGL love, too. I thought I'd gone soft. Well...extra soft.

      Man, I'm with you about BB. Who knew?

      Unless you hate the whole Rogen-stoner genre, I can't imagine you wouldn't have a good time with this one. For me, it wasn't as funny as This is the End or Neighbors, but I still laughed along the whole way.

      I have no idea what that guy was thinking. None. And if I was sweating? Shit. He must have completely died inside.