It’s always a pleasure to be surprised by a movie. You get word that the new big hit is making its way to DVD and watch it to find it so so but then pick up another new release to round out the night and find yourself pleasantly surprised. Such was the case this week with TAKE ME HOME TONIGHT.
Set in the late 80s, Matt Franklin (Topher Grace) is in a rut. He was the smartest kid in school, has his degree from MIT and yet is working at Suncoast Video, still dreaming of the lost love of his life, the girl that he never had the courage to ask out, Tori Frederking (Teresa Palmer). Who should walk into the store but Tori. Matt quickly ducks out the back, ditches his uniform and casually strikes up a conversation with Tori and the knowledge that she’s going to be at the big part his sister’s boyfriend is putting on that night.
Matt’s twin sister Wendy (Anna Faris) and best friend Barry (Dan Fogler) have heard it all before. The same story over and over as Matt continues to wait for the exact right moment to talk to Tori. This could be it but they doubt it.
The same day of the part Barry loses his job. With revenge in mind, and in an attempt to help make Matt look the part of a Goldman Sachs employee (what he told Tori he was doing so she’d be impressed), they steal a showroom car. They also find that the owner has stashed his cocaine in the glove compartment, something that will turn Barry into a wild man as the evening wears on.
At the party Matt comes face to face with an old nemesis and his sister’s boyfriend Kyle (Chris Pratt). The stereotypical jerk with money character seen in so many 80s films, Kyle pops the question that night to Wendy which leads to a rift between siblings. Matt knows her desire is to go to Cambridge and she might have been accepted. No way will Kyle let her do such a thing.
As the night moves forward, Matt comes to Tori’s rescue when she’s being hit on by someone she can’t stand. The two spend some time together and seem to be hitting it off. Matt, Barry, Tori and her friends head out to another party in Beverly Hills her boss is hosting. When he tries to embarrass Matt, Matt comes off as knowing more than he really does and puts him in his place, giving him and edge with Tori. But will it be enough for him to make it last? Will she accept him for what he really is? Will she even find out? Will Barry make it through the night alive? And what about Wendy and Kyle?
All of these questions are answered before the end of the film. And it’s all done in such a style that you would think this was just another John Hughes film from the 80s. The look and feel of the film, the situations that the characters find themselves in and the whole vibe of the 80s, along with a soundtrack that will have you saying “Hey I remember that song!” out loud come together for one funny and touching comedy.
Topher Grace will forever be associated with the character of Eric Foreman from the TV series THAT 70’S SHOW. But it’s nice to see that while the character here has touches of Eric it is in no way a duplicate. Matt is a nice guy, someone who just hasn’t found out what he wants to do with his life yet. He just knows that he never took that chance, made that move to discover if the dream he always had could become a reality. Towards the end it’s his father (played by Michael Biehn) who tells him he just needs to take a shot at something. Words to live by.
The supporting cast does a great job as well. Fogler seems to be the new Curtis Armstrong in films these days, another reference to 80’s films. Faris is turning out to be quite the actress, displaying more emotional depth than she’s had in the past. And Teresa Palmer is a fresh face that has the chops to carry off her character with ease.
As I said at the start this movie is reminiscent of so many films from the 80’s, the screwball romantic comedies of the time. Memories of THE BREAKFAST CLUB, SIXTEEN CANDLES, SAY ANYTHING and more will be sure to pop into your head while you watch this movie. And not in a condescending way or rip off of those films. It’s a fresh look at those movies done now, a tribute of sorts but a story in its own right. This one offers entertainment, laughs and a nice romance as well. It’s not just worth watching but worth adding to your collection as well.