Title: Take Me Home Tonight
Director: Michael Dowse
Writers: Jackie Filgo and Jeff Filgo, based on a story by Topher Grace and Gordon Kaywin
Starring: Topher Grace, Anna Faris, Dan Fogler, Teresa Palmer, Michelle Trachtenberg, Chris Pratt, Audrina Patridge, Robert Hoffman, Lucy Punch, Demetri Martin, Michael Biehn, Michael Ian Black, Bob Odenkirk, Whitney Cummings
MPAA Rating: R, language, sexual content and drug use
Runtime: 97 min
Major Awards: -
IMDb Rating: 6.8
Rotten Tomatoes: 31%
I actually wanted to like Take Me Home Tonight, mostly because it had Topher Grace as its lead actor, and I think he’s kind of awesome, and because it had a bunch of other great people in the supporting cast, including Anna Faris and her real-life fiancée Chris Pratt as well as appearances by comedians like Michael Ian Black and Whitney Cummings. But as much as I wanted to like this film I ultimately just didn’t. I mean, it had its moments, the cast alone is charming and talented enough to make sure of that, but the laughs just aren’t there when they should be, and the concept itself is not all that inspired.
This film is sort of an homage to all the 80’s romantic comedies, and we all know Mr. Grace can play past decades ridiculously well from his time in That 70’s Show, and considering he was part of the group that came up with the story for this one I thought this one would at least have a cool plot. But it didn’t.
We have Mr. Grace here playing Matt, an MIT graduate who instead of landing a fancy job is still living with his parents and working at a video store. He obviously has a kind of eccentric best friend, because these characters in these movies always do, and he’s played by Dan Fogler, and he also has a twin sister, who’s played by Ms. Faris, who’s always quite cool to watch.
Now, the romance part of the film comes from the fact that we are introduced to Tori, the character Teresa Palmer plays, who was the gorgeous girl Matt had a crush on in school. However, when they were in school she paid no mind to him, but now that he’s an MIT graduate and has lied to her and told her he’s a bigshot banker, she’s definitely paying attention.
You probably get where this one’s gonna go from here, Matt’s lies will eventually be found out and the film will be filled with pretty much every single 80’s movie clichées you can think of. I will give the film, and director Michael Dowse, some credit because all of these clichées aren’t all that dumb when we get them, they don’t feel like a stupid parody but rather you get the feeling that the film really wanted to pay homage to the era. Unfortunately, however, it ultimately doesn’t work because even though it treats these conventions with a serious approach, the approach is nothing new, and the laughs don’t always come along with them.
Part of that intent to actually make this one feel like an 80’s film, and not a parody of them, caused this movie to be delayed quite a lot. This one was actually made about four years ago, but was left on the shelf because there was a lot of cocaine and a threesome and a lot of other outrageous stuff in it, and because of that studios were hesistant to put out this sort of film because it seemed a bit too much, but the filmmakers didn’t want to change it because parties in the 80’s were about cocaine and threesomes, so at least they remained faithful to the era. And I really do commend that, and that love for the time they were representing, even if said representation ultimately wasn’t that successful, is probably what will keep me from failing this one.
Because, as good as some of its parts may be, they don’t really mix well together when telling this story. Mr. Fogler especially I found to be horribly off-putting, his character is a necessity of these films, the rather chubby sidekick of the titular hero who will make a mess of himself more times than not, but he does nothing fresh to the role, and he just messed up the film for me. And considering he’s in a lot of scenes with Mr. Grace, who you can tell was really trying to make this one good, and Ms. Faris, who’s always game for anything and is energetic as hell, he really downgraded this for me.
Take Me Home Tonight is far from amazing, and probably the only thing it’s good for is the fact that it gives us Mr. Grace in a leading role, something we should be thankful for, but his talents, as well as the ones of his mostly overqualified supporting cast, are wasted on a film that tries to do honor to films three decades old, but that while focusing too much on that forgot to make sure it was something new and fresh itself. There’s a way-too-long party scene during the film that serves to explain what the whole movie feels like, one noisy and tiresome venture, done by people that no doubt had all the best intentions, but that were given a dialogue that gave their characters no real human connection and way too few laughs.