Remember the 1980s? If not, perhaps you remember some films of the 1980s-perhaps those of the John Hughes variety? If you do, you probably do not remember a movie exactly like Take Me Home Tonight. In the spirit of John Hughes-esque films (i.e. The Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink), Take Me Home Tonight is a retro-1980s movie that explores high-school politics despite the fact that its characters are four years removed from it. However, it is done in a way that is quite different from those in the days of the Brat Pack.
The film's star, Topher Grace, plays Matt Franklin, a recent MIT grad and math genius who is having a hard time figuring out what his proverbial next step is. Afraid of taking any chances, Matt is a clerk at a video store where he runs into his crush from high school, Tori Frederking (Teresa Palmer). Tori actually talks to him and spreads the word about the mammoth Labor Day weekend party she'll be attending. So Matt finally takes a chance on something by attending the big party with twin sister Wendy Franklin (Anna Faris) and their best friend Barry Nathan (Dan Fogler).
Things heat up for Matt when he and Barry steal a BMW from the dealership that Barry was recently canned from. The car is naturally stocked with cocaine in the glove compartment that Barry partakes in and consequently acts even crazier as the night goes on. From there on more lunacy follows including: a ridiculous dance-off; a car-crash; a run-in with an angry former classmate of Matt's who is wheelchair- bound (Demetri Martin); a disturbing threesome involving Barry, Sylvester Stallone's ex-wife and current NutriSystem spokeswoman Angie Everhart (I'm still scratching my head about that one), and a really creepy dude with a fetish; then, finally topped off by a giant ball that Matt finds himself spiraling out of control in down a steep hill. (Again, still head-scratching.)
One of the highlights of Take Me Home Tonight is a break-out performance by comedian Demetri Martin, who plays that former classmate in the wheelchair, which left me wanting to see much more of him. He is insanely funny and could've (and maybe should have) had a much bigger part in this movie. Another highlight is Grace's performance. He is so fantastic at playing the straight guy in the comedy duo and he brilliantly illustrates his talent in his scenes with Fogler and especially in those with Martin. He is definitely funny and still reminiscent of the Eric Forman (That ‘70s Show) that we all know and love.
Although I found myself belly-laughing throughout the movie, there were some elements of this story that just did not add up. The film was based on a story idea that Topher Grace co-created that is not meant to be a spoof on the 1980s, but rather a throwback movie that could've actually been made in the 1980s. However, I am not sure that the story worked. It's almost like it was a bunch of shorts pieced together to form a feature length film. These "shorts" were funny on their own, but I'm not sure they were enough to substantiate the film. Additionally, the film reminded me a bit more of After Hours, a 1985 movie that takes place in the span of one crazy night, than any of the more mainstream 1980s movies. Still, Take Me Home Tonight is entertaining enough to provide several laughs.
Rating: TWO AND A HALF BONES
Release Date: March 4th, 2011
Starring: Topher Grace, Anna Faris, Dan Fogler, Teresa Palmer, Chris Pratt, Michael Biehn, and Demetri Martin
Director: Michael Dowse
Writers: Jackie Filgo and Jeff Filgo