Michael Drowse's coming-of-age party flick Take Me Home Tonight has its heart in the right place, but it won't make your heart flutter. The film is bland, unoriginal, and not particularly funny, although you might leave the theater feeling with a tiny smile on your face.
Take Me Home Tonight takes place in the 1980s and centers on Matt Franklin, played by Topher Grace. It's nice to see Grace advance a decade from the That '70s Show, and he's also an "executive producer" on this film, but it's not entirely clear why the movie takes place in the '80s. There are few '80s jokes and aside from just a handful of silly outfits, you might watch this and actually think it was taking place in modern times.
The story picks up on Labor Day weekend after Matt has graduated from MIT and has no idea what to do with his life. Matt works in a video store and lives at home with his parents and twin sister Wendy (Anna Faris). Always a scared loser in high school, Matt bumps into his old crush Tori Frederking (Teresa Palmer), who says she'll coincidentally be at Wendy's boyfriend's party later that night.
From there hilarity ensues as Matt and his best friend Barry Nathan (Dan Fogler) steal a Mercedes, acquire cocaine, and engage in a slew of other stunts. Matt tries to impress Tori by pretending he's a banker at Goldman Sachs while he works up the courage to make a move (or even get her phone number).
Take Me Home Tonight follows a familiar format by taking place entirely in one night, and mostly at one party (like Can't Hardly Wait or Superbad). The screening I attended had mostly teenagers or 20-somethings, and I heard very few laughs. Many of the kids leaving the theater said it was "enjoyable", but the evidence wasn't there based on their energy level. The jokes could be seen a mile away, and they weren't nearly as outrageous as one might expect in this day and age.
Topher Grace was somewhat flat in the lead role, perhaps overdoing Matt's scared and quiet nature. Fogler had a few nice moments, but mostly seemed like a poor man's Jonah Hill. Palmer was certainly charming as the nice and grounded hot girl, but she didn't add anything special to the part.
The one standout performance was that of Anna Faris, who nailed the '80s fun personality down, combined with the intelligence that was supposed to exude from her character. Faris has the talent to advance to bigger and better films than say, The House Bunny or Yogi Bear, and deserves the chance to do so.
Take Me Home Tonight is pretty harmless. It might garner or a chuckle or two. It may bring some minor '80s nostalgia. But it's the kind of film you're better of watching when it comes on HBO7 on DirecTV one night than paying $12 in a theater.
*1/2 out of **** I admit to being somewhat of a sucker for era-comedies that are sure to evoke nostalgia out of their target audience. I enjoyed 2010's "Hot Tub Time Machine", which is some sort of comedic homage to the 1980's. I won't say that the film was completely drenched in inspiration or admiration for the good ol' 80's, but it worked, and dare I say, it was funny. The film has become a major guilty pleasure for me, but then again, I do actually … more
Star Rating: Is it possible to recommend a movie strictly for its soundtrack? Take Me Home Tonight, which takes place in the 1980s, deftly utilizes some of that decade’s best songs, and as an unashamed fan of that kind of music, I found myself mouthing along a couple of times. I distinctly remember “Don’t You Want Me,” “Bette Davis Eyes,” and “Hungry Like the Wolf”; the latter plays during the film’s highly … more