Back to School Part II #25: The Night Before (dir by Thom Eberhardt)


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For the past two and a half weeks, I’ve been taking a chronological look at some of the best and worst films made about teenagers, high school, and even college!  We are 25-reviews into the 56-review series and we are quickly approaching the 1990s.  However, before we enter the final decade of the 20th Century, let’s take a look at one last film from the 80s.

Released in 1988, The Night Before (which should not be mistaken for the recent HBO series or the Seth Rogen Christmas comedy that nobody saw) opens with 17 year-old Winston Connelly (Keanu Reeves) waking up in an alley.  Winston isn’t the type that you would expect to find in an alley.  For that matter, he’s also not the type who you would usually expect to be played by Keanu Reeves.  He’s the president of his school’s astronomy club, a nice but socially awkward kid.  Even stranger than the fact that he’s waking up in an alley is the fact that he’s waking up in an alley while wearing a tuxedo!

How did Winston end up in that alley?  Well, it turns out that he was on the way to prom.  His date was Tara Mitchell (Lori Loughlin), a popular cheerleader who only asked Winston to the prom because she lost a bet with one of her friends.  (In a revealing bit of character development, Winston doesn’t care that she only asked him because she had to.  He’s just happy to have a date!)  When Winston was driving her to the prom, he took a wrong turn and he ended up in the bad side of town.  Then his car broke down and, as we see in several flashbacks, he and Tara stepped into a nearby bar and asked for help…

And the rest is the blur.  All Winston knows is that, upon waking up, his car has been stolen and Tara has disappeared.  And a pimp named Tito (Trinidad Silva) wants to kill him!

Uh-oh!

Will Winston be able to find his car, Tara, and discover what happened during his blackout?  You’ll have to watch the film to find out!

And, actually, I liked The Night Before.  It was a well-directed and energetically acted movie.  It takes a while to get used to Keanu Reeves playing such an innocent character but he actually gives a really likable and genuinely funny performance.  The film was directed by Thom Eberhardt, who also did Night of the Comet and Sole Survivor, and he keeps the action moving a nice pace.  The movie won’t win any points for originality — the debt to Adventures In Babysitting is especially obvious — but it’s still an entertaining 80s teen comedy.

Add to that, Keanu Reeves and Lori Louglin made a super cute couple!  I wonder if they spent their time on set sharing memories of making Brotherhood of Justice together?

I sure hope they did!

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