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I cannot help that I was born in the ’80s rather than having come of age in them, which is clearly not the case for those who made Take Me Home Tonight, a film not without a few charms but ultimately bland and (unlike the era it takes place in) lifeless.
Topher Grace (who helped create the story) stars as Matt Franklin, a recent MIT grad who (shock) is aimless in his life and works at Suncoast Video. His twin sister Wendy (Anna Faris) has applied to Cambridge but hasn’t told her d**k boyfriend Kyle (Chris Pratt). Their best friend from high school, Barry (Dan Fogler), works for a car dealership and has little success in his professional and personal life. When Kyle throws a massive Labor Day party, inviting all of their old classmates from high school, Matt learns his high school crush Tori (Theresa Palmer) will be in attendance, and sets out to fulfill his dream from high school: get her number.
Sounds engaging, right? No? Yeah, didn’t think so.
There’s really no way to spice up the plot. It is what it is and what it is is (yet another) “crazy night out” movie, where a collective group of friends go on a series of hijinks that teach them all about themselves in life. Since that’s already a tired approach, what could set Take Me Home Tonight is its characters, setting and the situations they find themselves in.
Well the characters are stock, so that’s out. The setting is the ’80s, so it’s already told its own joke. The endgame for “Tonight” is the hijinks and unfortunately, they’re not that funny when you stack them up against other “crazy night out” movies like Superbad or The Hangover. Nothing stands apart as truly original or genuine. Rather, the script feels like a retread of a short story that (ironically enough) could have been written in high school.
Most of the cast do their best with what they’ve got: I’ve got a small crush on Grace, so that helps his part, but Faris can’t catch a good break it seems and Fogler is meant to steal the comedic thunder of those around him. He succeeds for the most part, but again that’s not saying much. For having an R rating, it feels like the script is often playing it safe in the comedy department and that’s not what’s going to get people to laugh.
Another area that felt like a misfire was the setting: the late ’80s. This film could have taken place during any time period really. Were it not for the bad hair and ’80s music (soundtrack could have been a lot better) in the background, you could have easily put the story in another era and, in retrospect, it could have been better. The ’80s “filter” almost forces the jokes (which weren’t funny to start with) down the throat of the audience, as if to say “look at the hair! Listen to the script! Watch the dancing! This is funny!”
Not so much, no.
Take Me Home Tonight
Directed by Michael Dowse
Written by Jackie and Jeff Filgo, Topher Grace and Gordon Kaywin
Starring: Topher Grace, Anna Faris, Dan Fogler, Teresa Palmer