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Take Me Home Tonight (2011)

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Score: 5/10

Genre: Romantic Comedy Running Time: 1 hr. 54 min.

Release Date: March 4th, 2011 MPAA Rating: R

Director: Michael Dowse Actors: Topher Grace, Anna Faris, Dan Fogler, Teresa Palmer, Lucy Punch, Michelle Trachtenberg

I

t’s an interesting concept to make an ‘80s teen sex comedy in 2011 (or a few years earlier since the film’s release was delayed) and “Take Me Home Tonight” manages to touch upon some of the magic of those films while also retaining modernistic comedy elements.  The creators stated that they wanted to make a movie that feels like it was made in the ‘80s rather than just parodying the decade, but the result shifts back and forth between accomplishing that goal and venturing towards the outlandish antics of present day gross-out teen comedies.  The R rating allows for more colorful dialogue, a little nudity, and plenty of drug use, but the most satisfyingly humorous moments don’t involve sex, drugs, or its antiquated setting. Visually (and certainly musically) the best of the ‘80s is there, but strangely the film would have been just as effective set in any era.

Matt Franklin (Topher Grace) works at a Suncoast Video after graduating from MIT, and has no prospects on his future career. His greatest regret, however, is never obtaining the phone number of his unrequited high school crush Tori Frederking (Teresa Palmer).  When a chance meeting with his dream girl allows him to join her at Kyle Masterson’s (Chris Pratt) legendary Labor Day weekend party, Matt, his best friend Barry (Dan Fogler), and his twin sister Wendy (Anna Faris), navigate the rocky revelations of burgeoning adulthood through a night of wild partying, self reflection, and second chances.

Master of the ‘80s teen comedy, John Hughes often employed a tactic where a moment of hilarity emerged after reflecting on the more serious revelations of growing up. “Take Me Home Tonight” uses an antithetical approach – bouts of comedy are capped with the somber musings of regrets and failures.  This often leaves a bitter taste to the conclusion of each event no matter how comically it started and forces the viewer to reminisce on the solemnity.  As a result, the comedy acquires a much darker feel than it actually deserves, which perhaps accurately resonates with the seriousness of cocaine use and lying to women, but detracts from the laugh-out-loud appeal.

A few references to Hughes’ work and some paralleling ideas surface in “Take Me Home Tonight,” but the film can’t quite grasp the charm and sincerity of its authentic predecessors.  It does, however, still manage to feature a classic tale of a teenager searching for his dream girl. And this is accompanied by clever bits of comedy and the scene-stealing, over-the-top exploits of funnyman Dan Fogler.

– Joel Massie

 



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