Rating: 1 out of 5 stars
Opens locally Friday, March 4th, 2011
Run Time: 1 hour, 37 minutes, Rated R
Starring: Topher Grace, Teresa Palmer, Anna Faris, Dan Fogler
Directed by Michael Dowse
The 1980s seem to be the hot thing right now…most recently brilliantly spoofed in last year’s “Hot Tub Time Machine” amongst other films. With “Take Me Home Tonight” we get a comedy that wants to be an 80s teen throwback movie, in the vein of “Fast Times”, “Ferris Bueller” or “Weird Science.” It’s a throwback all right…a forgettable teen comedy that is embarrassingly bad, even by back-then standards.
Before we get to the review, if you missed my interview with stars Topher Grace and Demetri Martin, you can find it here.
The Plot. The premise reeks of movies we’re used to seeing back in the day…the entire film in fact, takes place during one “unforgettable” night, or the “Best. Night. Ever.” as the movie poster proclaims. Topher Grace is at the center as Matt Franklin, who like many 20-somethings, finds himself nowhere near a real career and working at a Suncoast Video just 4 years removed from high school. When the ex-prom queen and his former crush (played by the beautiful Teresa Palmer) comes into the store, he lies and says he’s a banker. You see, there’s a huge party also happening later that evening, and all the old high-schoolers will be there. She invites him along, and now he must act out his lie to impress the girl of his dreams. Of course, it never goes that smooth.
The major flaw is that the movie is just not funny. The biggest failing comes from Matt’s best friend Barry, played by Dan Fogler. He is supposed to be the comedic center of the film opposite Topher’s “straight-man”, but he falls flat from start to finish. He’s been in stuff from time to time, but for me, just is totally awful and over-the-top. The film does have it’s moments, and shining through the mediocrity is two short scenes featuring up-and-coming comedian Demetri Martin from Comedy Central’s “Important Things with Demetri Martin.” If the rest of the film had his comedic timing and attitude, it would have been much better. Also wasted is one of my faves, Michael Ian Black, who is a super-funny guy giving nothing remotely comedic to do. Why cast him in this kind of role?
We know this movie is set in the 80s, mainly due to the constant barrage of 80s songs that never end. Quite literally, the soundtrack is nearly nonstop a cliché of all that the 80s had to offer, to the point where it actually became distracting…like “OK, we get it, the film is set in the 80s!”
Despite all of this, Topher Grace does an OK job in the lead role, but his crush played by Teresa Palmer was for me, the most interesting aspect of the film. Her character was not believable (why is she interested in Topher’s character again?), but she is amazingly beautiful, and it made me interested in staying in the theatre. The two leads had decent chemistry, even if the storyline was 2-dimensional.
From start to finish, unbelievable events continue to mount, and although it’s a comedy, all good movies are rooted in some level of believability. “Take Me Home Tonight” wants to be a coming-of-age nostalgia trip, but instead is a low-brow and shallow collection of scenes and characters that we don’t really care about. If it were funny, it would make up for some of the mess, but it just doesn’t draw laughs.
Some things are better left alone, and “Take Me Home Tonight” proves that 1980s teen comedies belong where they came from. It’s one thing to create an homage to a nostalgic kind of film, it’s another to re-create the same schlop that led to it’s abandonment in the first place.
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