Take Me Home Tonight (2011)

Take Me Home Tonight is a weak excuse for an 80s throwback reunion film, two of the lazier genres out there. It’s a needless movie that probably wants to distinguish itself by capitalizing on the nostalgia craze but doesn’t and slips out of your mind as easily as it goes in. The action takes place on one night in the late 1980s as a group of former high school classmates gather for a giant house party, as twentysomethings do. Matt (Topher Grace), a recent graduate from MIT, is wasting away at his job at Suncoast Video – look that up on Wikipedia, kids. While he isn’t putting his expensive education to good use, he does get a chance to reconnect with his high school crush, Tori (Teresa Palmer). In order to impress her, he lies about working at Goldman Sachs, which gets him an invite to the party.

He doesn’t need one though because the host is his twin sister Wendy’s (Anna Faris) boyfriend, Kyle (Chris Pratt). Wendy is adjusting to post-college life a little better than her brother. She’s awaiting an offer to study at Cambridge but needs to work some things out with her goofball, partying boyfriend. He doesn’t even know where Cambridge is, so you can guess where this relationship is heading. Rounding out their crew is friend Barry (Dan Fogler), an unhappy car salesman who’s just been fired for his devil may care attitude.

The story touches on all the usual clichés about reconnecting with your past in order to figure out your present and future. Matt and Tori are hitting it off, but the deeper they get into his fantasy, and lie, the bigger the fallout promises to be. It’s a similar situation for Wendy when Kyle proposes to her after an already tedious night of playing co-host. You can be sure that these friends will sort out some important life decisions though. There’s a bruising run-in with the law that involves a stolen car, cocaine, and Matt’s police officer dad, and if that doesn’t help clarify things, then a climactic giant steel ball race that ends in a near drowning surely will.

None of this helps the movie stand out. Faris, as usual, grabs the spotlight by alternating between very funny and very vulnerable. Fogler also has some moments as the resident wild man. But the extras don’t do much, like the 80s theme, chosen for no other reason than to add some extra neon and use a song-as-movie-title gimmick. The story diverges slightly because it’s not a high school graduation blowout or a ten year reunion, but the post-college timing is a bit awkward for this kind of reflective comedy. It’s at once too removed from high school and not enough to relive petty rivalries and reevaluate friendships. The big issue seems to be Matt’s lack of seriousness when it comes to finding a job, to which I say, the kid just graduated from MIT; I think he’ll be alright.

Released: 2011
Prod: Ryan Kavanaugh, Jim Whitaker, Susan Bowen
Dir: Michael Dowse
Writer: Jackie Filgo, Jeff Filgo
Cast: Topher Grace, Anna Faris, Dan Fogler, Teresa Palmer, Chris Pratt, Michael Biehn, Lucy Punch, Michelle Trachtenberg, Demetri Martin, Michael Ian Black, Ginnifer Godwin, Bob Odenkirk
Time: 97 min
Lang: English
Country: United States
Reviewed: 2017

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