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3 reviews, 2 user ratings

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Take Me Home Tonight
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by Rob Gonsalves

"Possibly only '80s nostalgia freaks like me need apply."
4 stars

"Take Me Home Tonight" is set in 1988, the year I graduated from high school. So I would've been a few years behind this movie's characters, most of whom are Class of '84 and are now looking back on four years of life post-high school.

Some, like Matt Franklin (Topher Grace) and his twin sister Wendy (Anna Faris), have now also graduated from college but don't know what to do with their degrees. Should Matt, who went to MIT, go into engineering and leave his safe, fallback Suncoast Video gig? ("I didn't spend a quarter of my life savings," says Matt's cop-with-a-heart-of-gold dad, played by Michael Biehn, "so that you could work in a mall.") Will Wendy ditch her stupid boyfriend and prospective fiancé (Chris Pratt, in real life Mr. Faris) and pursue her creative muse in Cambridge (that's England, not Massachusetts)?

The movie, which like The Wedding Singer seems to want to fold the entire '80s into two hours, is about something interesting: the post-college blues, wherein you're still regularly seeing people you know from high school, who don't seem all that different than they were — it has only been four years — so you don't feel all that different. But life beckons, waiting for you to make some choices. What ties the movie to its actual '80s ancestors is a variety of familiar tropes: the unrequited love who got away (Teresa Palmer), the cringing-geek buddy (Dan Fogler) who gets high (cocaine is a hell of a drug) and falls into squalor and embarrassment, the family bonds stronger than passing fancies. Take Me Home Tonight is particularly good at the last: Matt and Wendy talk and act like real siblings. I can see why Matt is annoyed that Wendy might drop her literary dream to marry a frat douche.

The film isn't much, but for those of us who appreciate anything '80s, it's a perfectly painless nostalgia trip. It even has the cheapjack, slightly grainy look and muddy sound of an actual mid-'80s flick. All I needed to make the illusion complete was the odor of stale spilled beer of the crappy theaters of my youth. Faris gratifyingly plays smarter than she's usually asked to play; Grace makes a suitable Andrew McCarthy/Anthony Michael Hall stand-in. The weirdest and perhaps funniest scene involves a passive three-way between Dan Fogler, a voracious Angie Everhart, and a strange man who wants only to watch, played by Clement von Franckenstein, the coolest name I've heard this year so far. (His full name is Clement George Freiherr von und zu Franckenstein, which is even cooler. Anyway, he lends the movie a jocular Euro-decadent flavor that reminded me of good old Dieter Meier, of the Zurich electro-pop band Yello, whose leering "Oh Yeah" was inescapable during the late '80s.)

Take Me Home Tonight was completed so long ago (2007) that some of its bit players, like Whitney Cummings and Ginnifer Goodwin, have gone on to successes of their own. It was on the shelf that long not because it's bad — it isn't — but because the studio fretted over the cocaine use by two characters. Since the Bolivian marching powder, in this movie, leads only to a god-awful bathroom tryst while Clement George Freiherr von und zu Franckenstein watches, I don't think Universal (which once upon a time unleashed Animal House upon the youth of America) should've worried much about it. This is your libido. This is your libido on cocaine. Any questions?

Anyway, a lot of the plot hinges tiresomely on a ruse worthy of Three's Company (or That '70s Show, of which Topher Grace and scripters Jackie and Jeff Filgo are graduates): Matt pretends to be working at Goldman Sachs to impress his high-school crush. Goldman Sachs, of course, was not in 1988 the spit-flecked profanity on our lips it is today. The '80s were definitively the Money Decade, full of conspicuous consumption and questionable fashion and — to me, anyway — awesome music. The soundtrack of Take Me Home Tonight is predictable, even making use of standards from '80s tribute movies like Grosse Pointe Blank (hello, Pete Townshend's slow-dance remix of "Let My Love Open the Door"). But it ends with a tune I hadn't heard since the '80s, and I bow to no one in my hunger for '80s obscurities: "Live Is Life," a 1985 charter by the Austrian band Opus.

Now, of course, I can't get it out of my head, but any movie that can exhume a long-forgotten '80s ditty for me gets a passing grade.

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originally posted: 03/07/11 09:20:50
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User Comments

3/13/11 Luis Fun watch 3 stars
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  04-Mar-2011 (R)
  DVD: 19-Jul-2011


  DVD: 19-Jul-2011

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