Monsters and Critics (US), May 1, 2009
The Night Before (The Lost Collection) – DVD Review
by Frankie Dees
You lost your father's car, you sold your prom date, and a guy named "Tito" wants you dead!
LionsGate presents a new ‘Lost Collection,’ dusting off “lost” pics from the eighties and true to their word, ‘The Night Before’ headlined by Keanu Reeves is mostly forgotten. I won’t go so far as to say it’s a lost gem but it really ain’t that bad when considering the time and genre.
Clearly attempting a teen take on Martin Scorsese’s great ‘After Hours’ with that same kind of sleazy, surreal tone, 1988’s ‘The Night Before’ moves along on a string of vignettes that also reminded me of ‘Adventures of Babysitting’ the year before.
Writer/Director Thom Eberhardt is a cult favorite now with fun, distinctly eighties horror pics like ‘Sole Survivor’ and ‘Night of the Comet’ supporting most of his fame and after those two pics, Eberhardt tried his hand at exclusive comedy with ‘The Night Before’ and also gave barely-known at the time Keanu Reeves his first shot at a starring role. Whatever happened to that guy?
With only some dramatic TV pics and a role in ‘River’s Edge’ to his name, it’s actually kind of odd that Eberhardt thought Reeves would be a good fit for a more comic-inclined role (with Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure coming after) where he stars as the nerdy Winston (Reeves), president of the Astronomy club – ouch.
The first half of the film is mostly playing catch up as we find Winston waking up in the early hours of the morning after his prom in a seedy part of L.A. with not an inkling of how he found himself there. Still wearing a tuxedo, and with a pocketful of cash that he also doesn’t remember the origins of, as he proceeds through the night, flashbacks slowly fill out his adventures.
It seems he was escorting the school hottie Tara (Lori Loughlin, ‘Full House’) to the prom but only because she lost a bet, ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’-style. After picking her up and dealing with her police officer father who warned him to have her back by midnight (while he was polishing his gun no less), Winston pulls a ‘Judgment Night’ and gets lost in downtown LA.
After waking up, Tara is nowhere to be seen and the search is on. Only problem is that Tito somehow got his mitts on her and Tito is apparently not someone you want to mess with as his name instills fear into whoever he encounters. So what’s a dorky president of Astronomy kid to do?
First off, let me just say that the film isn’t very good nor is it especially funny but it does have a certain eighties charm that kept me watching. Like ‘Adventures in Babysitting’ or ‘Mystery Date’, this has a constant supply of wackiness to keep the proceedings from getting boring. While it may not be handled all that well, I was still curious what was going to be awaiting Winston in the next scene.
I also liked the structure as it takes a while before we get the full picture of what’s happening to poor Winston. And like the film, Keanu Reeves isn’t that good but still has a certain goofball charm. His slacker/surfer Bill delivery of the lines seems right for the role even though I doubt it was a conscious decision on Reeves part so this is actually a not all that embarrassing first role for Reeves – Keanu fans should definitely seek this one out.
A major problem with this disc and which is a major fault for all of the pics in LionsGate ‘The Lost Collection’ is their abysmal full-screen transfers. A transfer that seems taken directly from the VHS, the print is in really shoddy shape. I honestly couldn’t recommend this DVD if you already have the VHS as there really isn’t an improvement – maybe for convenience only.
A Dolby Digital 5.1 track is provided but you could be excused for thinking it’s just a standard stereo track. I have to assume this was just a quick remix. The only special feature is a ‘trivia track’ which is basically a subtitle stream that throws out sporadic info.
The film is a semi-effective eighties comedy with most interest probably due to an early starring role for Keanu Reeves. That said, it’s surprisingly entertaining and for fans of cult writer/director Thom Eberhardt, it’s also worth checking out. The transfer is a huge disappointment, though, so proceed with caution if you care at all about picture quality.
The Night Before (The Lost Collection) is now available at Amazon. As of yet, there is not a release date for this version of the DVD in the UK. Visit the DVD database for more information.