Take Me Home Tonight is a fun homage to 1980s music/movies and while it’s hardly a great movie, the cast ensemble seems to have good chemistry with one another and the jokes on the whole seem to hit rather than miss. I can’t say this is a must purchase title but it is worth a rental and once it gets to the $10 range, might be worth purchasing.
Fox | R – 97 min. – $39.99 | July 19, 2011
Directed by: Michael Dowse
Writer(s): Topher Grace & Gordon Kaywin (story), Jackie Filgo & Jeff Filgo (screenplay)
Cast: Topher Grace, Anna Faris, Dan Fogler, Teresa Palmer
Theatrical Release Date: March 4, 2011
Features: Featurette, Deleted Scenes, Music Video, Music Boom Box, Digital Copy
Number of Discs: 2
Audio: English (DTS-HD MA 5.1)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 2.40
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Disc Size: 37.6 GB
THE MOVIE – 3.5/5
Passion projects are always a tricky thing to watch because you know the talent involved out a lot of heart and soul into the material often with mixed results. In this case, it is Topher Grace behind the 1980s revival Take Me Home Tonight in which he starred, executive produced and is co-credited with writing the story. Unfortunately for Grace, the film opened to bad critical reviews, mediocre reaction from general audiences and tanked at the box office making a paltry $6.9 million after an awful $3.4 million opening weekend.
So why did it do so poorly in almost all quadrants? Well, no top talent was attached, the marketing campaign was poor and a 4-year delay did not help matters. Was it as bad as some have said, though? Actually, it wasn’t that bad; no doubt it’s not a great film and might’ve been helped to have a rewrite or two but all in all it’s a serviceable flick with some funny moments throughout.
The story, set in 1988, centers on Matt Franklin (TOPHER GRACE), an M.I.T. graduate lost in life not knowing what to do or who he is and thus passes time working as a clerk at Suncoast Video. One day high school crush Tori Frederking (TERESA PALMER) walks into the store and he quickly removes his Suncoast vest and acts like he’s another customer. The two strike up a conversation and reminisce of old times. She’s now working for a successful banking company and being embarrassed he lies and says he works for Goldman Sachs. Eventually she invites him to a raucous party…
This party is being hosted by Kyle Masterson (CHRIS PRATT) the boyfriend of Matt’s twin sister Wendy (ANNA FARIS). Kyle is the typical movie dumbass who uses words incorrectly and who we know isn’t right for Wendy, though it takes her some time to discover this for herself. Meanwhile, Matt is still trying to find himself and where he belongs as he works up the nerve to talk to Tori while maintaining the lie he told her. Soon enough, of course, the two form a bond feeling the same way about their lives which leads to a rendezvous on a neighbor’s large trampoline.
Oh, and I neglected to mention our hapless sidekick for the film in the form of a character named Barry Nathan (DAN FOGLER), a large man who got fired from his job as a car salesman and, because Matt didn’t want to be seen arriving at the party in his sister’s junk car, steals one from the dealership to “borrow” for the evening (nothing could go wrong there…). While Fogler is playing the same kind of part we’ve seen in countless other movies (Jonah Hill primarily fills those roles) but here he’s still funny especially when he nabs a baggie of cocaine that so happens to be in the stolen car’s glove compartment. It’s an old and tired joke for sure but Fogler makes it work.
You get the gist of what happens next, that after making a love connection Matt must confess that he lied to her which of course does not go over well and fulfills a romantic comedy requirement: girl gets mad at girl.
The cast meanwhile seem to have a fun comradery from the sibling rivalry between Topher Grace and Anna Faris, the friendship between Grace and Fogler and the douche-baggery of the Kyle character which is cliché but still has been seen in numerous movies before; although I guess one could say it’s homage to 1980s comedies… In any case, when it comes to the actual acting, there’s nothing out of the ordinary and in regards to Topher Grace, it’s fairly similar to his character on “That ‘70s Show”.
I also should mention that Michael Biehn cast as Grace’s father was a good choice even if the character doesn’t quite pay off as intended. It was said in the features that Biehn was cast due to appearing in a couple pop culture flicks in the ‘80s with The Terminator and Aliens and for as limited as the role is, he’s used mainly to push Grace’s character.
The film was directed by Michael Dowse who primarily helmed a variety of independent, music-centric movies before so this is his most mainstream movie to date. Because of his background, he seemed to be the right choice and I think one of the hardest things to do is keep the pace flowing in a comedy and with Take Me Home Tonight, he manages it fairly well.
Take Me Home Tonight soars on the back of ‘80s nostalgia from the movies to the music but it excels thanks to the antics of the characters. Is it a particularly good movie? Not really but I did manage to laugh a few times and despite the fact I knew exactly where the story was headed, I still manage to at least care at the end even if the main character’s actions don’t quite gel. The screenplay by “That ‘70s Show” alums Jackie & Jeff Filgo, and story by Topher Grace and Gordon Kaywin, might not be the most well written comedy I’ve comes across but I felt it was effective and enough of the jokes landed that the movie as a whole worked.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 1.75/5
Deleted Scenes (11:00; HD) – There are 7 scenes included here, one are some outtakes, none of which are particularly special and were rightly removed but there are a couple funny moments.
Cast Get Together (8:12; HD) – In this short featurette, Topher Grace, Anna Faris, Teresa Palmer, Dan Fogler and Chris Pratt sit on a couch and talk about their experiences that the film covers. It also includes Palmer’s screen test and some outtakes. Not a bad featurette but it’s far too short.
Music Boom Box is a feature where you can select a song and go right to that scene where it plays. *Yawn*
Music Video (3:57; HD) for the “Don’t You Want Me” cover song.
Theatrical Trailer (2:28; HD) and 2 TV Spots (1:03; HD)
Previews – Cedar Rapids, Season of the Witch
Disc 2 contains a Digital Copy compatible with iTunes. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **
VIDEO – 4.25/5
Take Me Home Tonight dances its way onto Blu-ray in its original 2.40 aspect ratio and in 1080p high-definition. The video transfer doesn’t look at all bad with a wide array of colors while the skin tones seemed to look good as well. The black levels are excellent and I noticed no instances of pixilation or other flaws. And the picture itself is crisp, clear and clean. By no means is this an amazing looking film but a in line with what’s expected from a Blu-ray release.
AUDIO – 4.0/5
The DTS-HD MA 5.1 scores a win primarily due to the fantastic ‘80s soundtrack which blares through each channel. Dialogue is also decent mainly making use of the center speaker while party chatter came through the front speakers. Like the picture, I don’t feel this is a great lossless track but I doubt anyone will be disappointed.
OVERALL – 3.0/5
Overall, Take Me Home Tonight is a fun homage to 1980s music/movies and while it’s hardly a great movie, the cast ensemble seems to have good chemistry with one another and the jokes on the whole seem to hit rather than miss. I can’t say this is a must purchase title but it is worth a rental and once it gets to the $10 range, might be worth purchasing.
Brian Oliver, The Movieman
Check out some more screen caps by going to page 2.