Opening Note: I’m sorry I keep disappearing off the site, I keep getting caught up in other worldly pursuits like hunting humans for sport. I’m trying to get back into a rhythm though, so hopefully this won’t be the last thing you hear from me. Unless the humans I hunt begin to hunt me…
Rated R for language, sexual content and drug use.
Starring: Topher Grace, Dan Fogler, Teresa Palmer, Anna Faris
Written by: Jackie Filgo/Jeff Filgo (Story by Topher Grace/Gordon Kaywin)
Directed by: Michael Dowse
Cocaine is a hell of a drug, so much so that it can derail a movie’s prospects. Don’t believe me? Look at the situation Take Me Home Tonight has been in; for the past four years, it has struggled to find a studio that was up to releasing it nationwide, and it’s all because of the fact that cocaine is involved heavily and not in a negative “drugs are bad” way. That, my friends, is total bullshit. Well it looks like Rogue and super-producers Ron Howard and Brian Grazer agreed, because after all this time, Take Me Home Tonight has finally seen the light of day and unlike most movies that sit on the shelves for years at a time, it’s actually good. Competently made, clever, and filled with some good and relatable characters, I liked this movie far more than I thought it would. It’s just too bad it wasn’t more original.
Taking place over Labor Day 1988, Take Me Home Tonight stars Topher Grace as Matt Franklin, a college graduate who has decided that he doesn’t want to pursue the career he has his degree in. Aimless and unsure of his next move, he has passed the time over the summer working at Suncoast Video while it seems like everyone else from his high school class has gone on to bigger and better things. While at work, he runs into Lori Frederking (Teresa Palmer), his high school crush. When she tells him that she’s in the financial industry, he decides to lie and say he is in the same field in order to seem cool and less “I have no idea where the fuck my life is headed”. The lie seems to work, and she informs him of a big Labor Day party going on that night. Seeing this as the “in” he was always hoping for, he decides to go and finally get her phone number.
But he’s not going alone. Along for the ride is his best friend Barry Nathan (Dan Fogler), who unlike Matt, decided to skip college and instead work full-time at an auto dealership. After messing up with a client, he is fired from his job and Barry completely loses his shit and decides to use this party to make up for the four years of partying and hooking up he missed out on by not going to college. And then there’s Matt’s twin sister Wendy (Anna Faris), who is dealing with a life choice of her own: she has gotten a letter from Cambridge University in England where she applied to potentially get her Masters degree, but is afraid to open it for fear of rejection and change. At the same time, she is feeling pressure from her boyfriend Kyle (Chris Pratt), who is throwing the party everyone is at, to take their relationship to a more serious level would in theory turn her into a housewife. As Barry does tons of cocaine and gets into all sorts of crazy situations, Wendy struggles with deciding her future and Matt tries to win Tori’s heart, despite the fact he lied to her about his life. There’s a lot of change going on in this bitch.
Right off the bat, I have to commend the people behind Take Me Home Tonight for not using the 80′s backdrop as an excuse to make jokes and satirize the era. Instead of being a movie about the 80′s, it’s a movie that just so happens to take place in the 80′s. That deserves a lot of respect right at the outset.
There’s also more to love about the movie then that. The struggles facing the three main characters all contain something I think a lot of us can relate to, be it missing out on your youth to work instead or always being afraid to take charge of your own life or even choosing to settle down over continuing on your career path. I guarantee anyone who sees this movie will relate to one, if not all three, of these characters. And it helps that they are all likeable; I grew up on That 70′s Show and have a soft spot for Grace, and he gives a wonderful performance here as the lost and confused Matt. This is also the best I have ever seen Anna Faris when it comes to acting; she is usually loud and abrasive when doing comedy, but here she dials it down and actually acts and does it well. It makes you wish that this could have come out sooner, so she could’ve avoided being stuck in Yogi Bear. Big props to Demitri Martin as well, who shows up for a couple scenes as a wheelchair bound former classmate that, unlike Matt, actually works for Goldman Sachs. He doesn’t have many lines, but everything he says is hilarious and delivered perfectly. He steals the show for the two scenes he’s in, no doubt.
I can’t believe I’m going to say this, and I fear that I’ll never live this down but here I go: Dan Fogler was the highlight of Take Me Home Tonight. Oh god it feels dirty to say it, but it’s true. I’ve never been a fan of his; from Balls of Fury to Fanboys, he’s never came off as anything other than a low-rent Jack Black who feels the need to be loud and over the top at all points in time. Here, much like Faris, he dials it down. Not to the point of Faris or anything, but enough to where his ridiculous shenanigans are enjoyable instead of cringe-worthy. From his insane consumption of cocaine to the dance fight to his awkward sexual encounter with a woman and her creepy old German male friend who likes to watch, it’s a joy to follow Barry on his descent into insanity. And in a way, I even related to his character; I’ve chosen to work instead of letting loose and I feel like if I ever snapped, I would end up doing the same things he did, except to probably a less funny and more sad degree. I still can’t believe I’m saying this, but…good job Dan Fogler, you are way more awesome than I thought you would ever be. And you’d make a .
If there’s anything to knock in Take Me Home Tonight, it’s the fact that it doesn’t feel original in the slightest. Movies that take place in the same day all have a formula to them, and this is no different. It’s predictable and the events happen in a very paint by numbers way. At the same time, while I respect the hell out of the fact the 80′s aren’t the punchline to this movie, it also felt kind of…unnecessary. This would have worked in the present day with absolutely no problem, but I’m going to assume that Grace and the rest of the brains behind the movie just loved the time period and wanted to use it. Or they knew it’d drive up soundtrack sales because everyone still has a hard-on for that decade. I can’t tell. It’s not even really a negative to the movie, just something I noticed that made it feel off from time to time.
As predictable and sometimes uninspired as it is, Take Me Home Tonight is still a fun watch that if you’re in your 20′s and unsure of your next move, will make you think about where you are and where you’re headed. It’s got relatable characters acting pretty realistically (cocaine and grand theft auto notwithstanding), and some of great performances with Dan Fogler especially defying all expectations. I implore who ever reads this to give this a chance; don’t let any prejudices or preconceived notions ruin the chance to see a competently made comedy, because sadly, those are a dime a dozen nowadays.