Movie and plot overview
Ethan, Isaac and Noël have been friends since childhood and for the past ten years their annual Christmas Eve has been a night of debauchery and fun. As they grow up, they discover that their individual lives take them in different directions. With the end of the festive tradition, the trio has decided to make it as memorable as possible and plans to find and attend the Nutcracker Ball, an elusive and exclusive gathering that is the Holy Grail of Christmas.
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In December 2001 Ethan Miller (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) lost his parents in a terrible car accident. His two lifelong best friends, Isaac Greenberg (Seth Rogen) and Roberts (Anthony McKee), make a solemn vow to spend every Christmas Eve with Ethan so that he will not be alone at Christmas. Fourteen years later, however, friends decide to put an end to tradition, because the lives of friends are becoming too complicated to maintain tradition. Today, Chris is a famous soccer player whose attention is constantly drawn in different directions. Isaac is now married and has a new baby. However, two friends are worried about Ethan, who still has problems as a musician and works in a hotel. Chris and Isaac are worried that Ethan, although he claims to want to end this tradition, is actually not ready for it.
The trio’s goal was to come to the elusive Nutcracker Ball, an extremely exclusive Christmas party that three friends couldn’t attend every year. Ethan stole Nutcracker prom invitations for their senior year together. The friends are meeting at Isaac’s to start their evening. Betsy (Gillian Bell), Isaac’s pregnant wife, is giving her husband medication that he should take later. The trio leaves Isaac’s house and goes to the Christmas tree of the Rockefeller Center to start the evening. Ethan reveals his purchase of precious Nutcracker tickets. Chris buys marijuana from a former high school drug dealer, Mr. Greene (Michael Shannon), to impress some of his football teammates.
After Rockefeller Center, the trio goes to a karaoke bar and meets Diana (Lizzie Kaplan), Ethan’s former girlfriend, who recently broke up with him. Diana at the bar with Sarah (Mindy Killing), who says the girls are also planning to go to the Nutcracker Ball. Isaac’s taking some of the medication his wife gave him and he’s having a negative reaction. He records a video message on the phone in which he admits to being terribly afraid of having a child. The marijuana bought for Christmas was stolen by a Christmas thief (Ilana Glaser) who claims to be an alleged Christmas fan.
Without weed, Chris turns again to Mr. Green, who agrees to meet her at Chris’ mother’s (Lorraine Toussaint). Friends are having dinner with Chris’s mom, who’s calling Ethan to make it up to Diana. Isaac realizes that he switched phones at a karaoke bar with Sarah and tells the boys to get it back. The trio goes looking for Isaac’s phone and the marijuana thief strikes again and takes another packet of marijuana from Chris. Isaac’s obsessed with his phone, and Ethan just wants to go to a party. Chris doesn’t get any extra marijuana, but he learns the real value of his friends from the thief. Isaac breaks up with his friends and meets his wife and family for the midnight mass. Under the influence of drugs, Isaac makes me sick in church. Meanwhile, Ethan is beaten up by two drunken commercials swarming around Santa Claus after protecting the spirit of Christmas.
Friends meet at the subway station where they hardly ever talk to each other. Tension rises when Ethan shows that he and Isaac know that the sudden success of Chris’ career is due to the use of steroids. Chris said he and Isaac thought Ethan was lost. However, the trio goes to the nutcracker together.
One day at a party Chris discovered that his teammates didn’t need marijuana, which he tried to buy all night. Chris’ teammates laugh at him because of a video he made earlier with his friends. Isaac buys Sarah’s phone and discovers she never revealed her video message. Desperate Ethan finds Diana at the party and introduces her to the whole party, including guest Miley Cyrus. Diana publicly accepts the offer, but only rejects her request for a hand and a heart. Diana tells Ethan that he only proposed to her because he’s afraid of losing his friends. If he refuses, Ethan goes to the roof of the building where he finds Mr. Greene. The drug trafficker shows that he is the maker and master of the nutcracker. Ethan remembers his annual party ritual with Chris and Isaac and suddenly returns to the party because he knows what really matters. He visits his friends and discovers that Chris and Isaac were kicked out of the party after Chris got into a fight with his teammates.
When the sun rises at Christmas, friends make up for it. Isaac gets a message from his wife that the contractions are starting and the trio rushes to the hospital in Mr. Green’s car. Once there, they realize it’s a false alarm, but they discover that Mr. Green is an angel who used the trio to beat his wings. Isaac confesses and shows Betsy the video of the day before, while his wife shows that she too is afraid to raise her child.
Three friends are spending Christmas together at Isaac’s house. Chris leaves Isaac and goes to his mother’s for dinner where he confesses to taking steroids. Ethan goes to Diana’s house and apologizes for his behavior and is reluctant to meet their relationship. Diana admits she missed Ethan. Ethan told Diana he was finally ready to meet his parents.
Then the film jumps into the future for a year. Three friends and their loved ones spend Christmas together. Isaac’s baby’s barely falling asleep, so the trio’s serenading him. The story is told in a book read by Santa Claus, Mr. Green’s father.
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