Take Me Home Tonight
I went into today’s movie, Take Me Home Tonight, expecting to see a fun, somewhat dopey send-up of the 1980’s, but in fact the movie was more of a genuine throwback. A 80’s style R-rated comedy chock-full of watchable characters, plenty of fun, some boobs, some laughs, and a lot of heart. Set in 1988, it does a great job of seeming entirely like something that could actually have come out that year from someone like John Hughes.
Topher Grace plays Matt Franklin, a recent MIT grad who despite the booming economy is living with his parents and working in a video store due to a total lack of direction or ambition. So one might say he’s a man desperately in need of a plot. Luckily for Matt, his high school crush Tori Frederking (Teresa Palmer) has just moved back into town, and is planning to go to Kyle Masterson’s (Chris Pratt) big party, since the dopey Kyle’s girlfriend happens to be Matt’s intelligent twin sister Wendy (Anna Faris.) So Matt has an invite, and a plot. Further complicating things Matt’s best friend Barry (Dan Fogler) picks this day to get fired from his sales job at an exotic car dealership, and decides that’s a pretty good reason to drink more than he ever has before. Suffice to say this all leads to a night full of crazy antics, and a lot of fun.
In a film that loads up on cameos and recognizable stars in minor parts, the core cast really does carry the day. Grace, who co-wrote the film, excels as the under-achieving every man coming to realize that his fear of taking a risk is holding his whole life back. His initial awkwardness and attempts to socialize in a situation where he feels a little out of place came across as something very relate able, and his character’s transformation as he decides to “not think, just do” over the course of the evening makes for a consistent and heartfelt, it may be a bit cheesy but Topher handles the scenario with grace.
Fogler meanwhile proves that he’s a real comedic talent, when he’s not trying to carry an entire movie by himself. Barry’s drug and alcohol fueled journey through the film serves as an over-the-top comedic counterpoint to Matt’s more serious arc. I found him consistently funny, and while the character could easily have become tiresome, director Michael Dowse brings the character in and out of the narrative in more-or-less the right moments.
Overall Take Me Home Tonight is a an excellent piece of 80’s nostalgia. It not only celebrates the attitude, fashion and pop culture of the time, it does it one better by actually emulating a style of movie that served as such a hallmark of the era, but really isn’t done anymore. It pares down the raunchy humor, exchanging the purely outlandish for the clever, and presenting characters with significant depth for a light popcorn comedy. Also, it deserves bonus points for having a character who’s official name in the credits is: That Loser Who Always Shows Up At The Party With A Guitar. It’s a shame that this movie turned out to be a box-office bomb, because it really is well worth watching.