Notable Cast: Topher Grace, Dan Fogler, Anna Faris, Teresa Palmer, Chris Pratt, Michael Biehn, Demetri Martin
Review: Shelved since 2007, Take Me Home Tonight dusted itself off and finally saw sunlight this past weekend. Billed as a wild 80’s party film, one could only accept numerous references from one of the most flamboyant decades ever. That, and a bitchin’ 80s soundtrack. Take the good with the bad I guess, right? I mean it can’t be an 80s film without pastel Izods, embarrassingly overworked hairstyles, Journey, and cocaine. Checkmark for most of those, but no Journey?! “Don’t Stop Believing?” One of the greatest party songs ever? And how do you make the title Take Me Home Tonight and not throw Eddie Money a bone? C’mon, the guy can use all he can get. That said, this 80’s spectacle sets the atmosphere just right, delivers laughs, but gets too caught up in each character’s inner conflict. The film I wanted to see could best be described by Poison’s “Nothin’ But A Good Time,” but I got something along the lines of “Come On Eileen;” whiney, annoying, but easy to laugh at.
Young Matt Franklin (Grace) is at a crossroads in his life. A fresh college graduate from MIT with a mind built for the banking industry, Matt is unable to commit to a future as his first summer out of college draws to an end. His best friend Barry (Fogler) has just been fired from the car dealership he spend the last 7 years of his life working at, even declining a college education for the job. Matt’s sister Wendy (Faris) is about to take the next step in her relationship with boyfriend Kyle (Pratt) by moving into a condo of their own. All three friends have tremendous emotions raging inside them for their own reasons, but decide to throw them all away for one night. Kyle is throwing his yearly Labor Day Weekend party, and the trio look at this as their last hoorah before reality kicks in. Matt is especially conflicted when he hears his high school crush Tori (Palmer) is back from a trip to Europe and attending the Labor Day bash. But can any of them put their troubles behind them and truly enjoy one of the last free nights of their lives? With the help of deception, law breaking, drugs, alcohol, and bad decisions, they’ll sure give it a hell of a run.
Matt Franklin is a character most can relate with. Fresh out of college with nothing but a piece of paper to prove it. Like so many of us, where Matt goes from this point dictates the rest of his life. But he’s afraid. Afraid he isn’t in the right profession, afraid he’ll be stuck in a dead-end job, and afraid to even take a crack at any option he has. Hell, for a college senior nearing the same point in my life, those feelings don’t seem too far-fetched. Where Topher Grace’s character turns you off though, is his glaring talent to be a gigantic pussy. What kid in his field wouldn’t kill to be him. “Wahh I don’t know what to do with my life in the big scary world.” Welcome to the club that includes the rest of the graduating population. You suck it up, take a job, and make a crap ton of money to fuel other happier parts of your life. It’s not giving in, it’s not the end of the world, but as Daniel Tosh says, “Money doesn’t buy happiness? Uh, do you live in America? ‘Cause it buys a waverunner.” For shits sake Matt has the opportunity to get a tremendous job out of college, and for a viewer joining the masses straight out of college, all I feel is aggravation how much of a baby back bitch Matt Franklin is.
Aside from that, Take Me Home Tonight is as flawed and clichéd as any comparable film. Nerdy high school dweeb has a crush on the former prom queen and makes his only goal to score with her. He looks like an idiot most of the movie, until that random climactic change where the gorgeous female lead realizes there’s so much more to the former dork. Love blossoms, blah blah blah, everyone’s happy. Don’t go into Take Me Home Tonight with any hopes of progressive storytelling, just sit back and enjoy the laughs. That’s the best advice to enhance your viewing pleasure.
That said, Take Me Home Tonight gets props for really authenticating the 80’s feel. God bless that I didn’t grow up during this embarrassing decade, but it’s sure fun as hell to watch other people live through it. Between the fads and the styles, something tells me I wouldn’t have made it. But hey, every influential time piece gets its mention: douchey Ray Ban sunglasses, the terrible one hit wonder songs (Ex. “The Safety Dance”), the obsession over cocaine, the “colorful” style choices, hairstyles that look like they’re cemented in place; seriously what good came out of the 80’s? (Minus the entire Arena Rock genre of music)
If you want a superior 80’s comedy, go out and rent Hot Tub Time Machine. If you’ve already seen Hot Tub and still want your 80’s fix, Take Me Home Tonight can’t hurt. It’s not bad enough to make it unwatchable, but it’s not good enough to have you leaving the theater grinning ear to ear. The cast left a little to be desired, banking on Topher Grace’s ability to create cringe worthily awkward scenarios mixed with Fogler’s ability to play the chubby comic relief. Not a real strong formula, not to mention overdone. Just take what you can get out of it and be happy with what you do get, not to sound too bleak. Hey, at least it fares better than its other long shelved brother to be released this year, Season of the Witch. As you can see, the end product could have been a lot, LOT, worse.
Final Rating: 6.5 times I listened to Eddie Money after this movie out of 10