The Night Before (1988)

Worth a Watch

Directed by Thom Eberhardt

Written by Thom Eberhardt & Gregory Scherick

Story by Gregory Scherick

Starring Keanu Reeves, Lori Laughlin, Theresa Saldana, Suzanne Snyder, & Trinidad Silva as Tito

Release Date: April 15, 1988

Running Time: 1hr 30min

Rating: PG-13

High school nerd, Winston Connelly (Reeves), wakes up in a dirty alley in the middle of the night, with no recollection of how he ended up there. As he stumbles around the streets of Los Angelas, he slowly remembers how he got there, while others give him some information. He was supposed to be taking Tara Mitchell (Loughlin), the most popular girl in school (and daughter of the local police chief) to the prom after she lost a bet. However, on the way to prom, Winston gets lost and they end up in a bad part of the city.

They end up parking his father’s car (which is later stolen) and going to a bar called The Rat’s Nest (obviously a classy joint), where Winston drinks something with an extra kick to it. This leads to him being somewhat impressive on the dance floor (until he slips and falls), befriending a hooker named Rhonda (Saldana), then being offered money to sell Tara to a pimp named Tito (Silva), whom he later insults in front of the entire bar, which leads him to being kicked out where in bumps his head, catching everything up.

The majority of the plot has Winston roaming the streets, trying to find Tara, get his father’s car back, and avoid the wrath of Tito, who’s given him till sunrise to leave the area. All the while he runs into a bunch of colorful characters and gets into one crazy situation after another. Is there a montage of Winston looking for Tara? It’s the 1980s, it was against the law to not include at least 1 montage!

I can’t find much information on the budget or box office performance of this movie. I would imagine it wasn’t made for a lot of money, and either it did decently well or it was a financial disappointment. I would also guess it wasn’t received very well critically, which was pretty common for a teen comedy of this era. Regardless, the year after this movie came out the first Bill & Ted movie came out, which made a lot of money and furthered Keanu’s career into superstardom. Also, the year this came out Lori Loughlin began appearing regularly on the inexplicably popular sitcom Full House (1987-1995), plus the sequel series Fuller House (2016-2020), and a bunch of stuff in between. [And yeah there was that whole college admissions bribery scandal back in 2019.]

I first came across this in high school (circa 2004 or 2005) on one of those premium cable channels (HBO, Showtime, etc), and was mainly interested in it because it starred Keanu and I always enjoy seeing actors in stuff before they hit it big, plus I’m a fan of 1980s cheese. These things will most likely factor into your enjoyment of it too. Keanu isn’t exactly known for his amazing acting, but he typically shows a lot of enthusiasm in whatever he’s in, and this is no exception. Before hitting it big with action movies, he always shined in lightheaded comedy.

Loughlin isn’t given as much to do (since much of the plot is Winston looking for her), but she plays a spoiled rich girl well and she and Reeves have decent chemistry. The supporting cast is filled with people that make you go “I’ve seen this person in something,” which includes an appearance from the late character actor Tom “Tiny” Lister Jr. (look him up, you’ve seen him in tons of things). There’s also a nice funky score provided by the legendary George Clinton (who also cameos in the film as bandleader at the Rat’s Nest). It’s a breezy 90 minutes long, so I would say give it a chance. The movie is available on DVD and is streaming on various platforms.

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