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TAKE ME HOME TONIGHT, 2011
Starring: Topher Grace, Anna Faris, Dan Fogler, Teresa Palmer, Michelle Trachtenberg, Michael Biehn, Chris Pratt, Dan Fogler, Nathalie Kelley, Robert Hoffman, Seth Gabel, Angie Everhart
It's the late 1980s, when Wall Street is riding high, and it seems as if the entire country is cashing in on the bumper profits. Disgusted with the materialism that surrounds him, Matt Franklin, a brilliant young MIT graduate, has walked out on his well-paid position at a local lab and taken a low-level job as a video clerk, much to his father Bill's consternation. And the crises keep piling up in Matt's life. His best buddy Barry has just gotten fired from his job, his brainy sister Wendy is getting hitched to her vapid boyfriend Kyle, and the gorgeous Tori Frederking, long-time object of Matt's unattainable adoration, is suddenly back in the picture. Now, on one wild, woolly and irresponsible evening, everything is coming to a head, with explosive results.
Release Date: 4 March 2011
The script is garbage. The storyline is an unimaginative series of awkward social blunders you would rather not witness. Dan Fogler’s over-the-top performance of the loudmouthed comic relief sidekick, Bryan, is basically an annoying Sam Kinison impression. And worst of all, Pete Townshend sells out “Let My Love Open the Door” one more shameless time to illustrate the vacant charm of true love between a couple who are entirely without chemistry.
“Take Me Home Tonight” is a screwball romantic comedy set in Los Angeles in 1988. So yes, there is a ton of cocaine. And that is what the creators of this mismanaged farce probably expected you to be on in order to laugh at all of the hugely absurd and improbable jokes.
In fact, the moralistic themes of this movie are as confused as the addled minds of the typical coked-up addicts representative of this era. This movie cannot seem to make up its mind about drugs. With unconvincing tones of morality, the characters half-heartedly shun the white gunpowder in all of its suggestive and manipulative power.
But it does look like it can be a lot fun, doesn’t it? And it can apparently introduce you to gorgeous women too. Maybe the theme is simply “don’t get caught with it.” And if you do, have a police officer for a father so you won’t go to jail.
That is the situation for identical twins Matt (Topher Grace) and Wendy (Anna Faris) and their incredibly understanding cop dad (Michael Biehn, who just looks completely tired of making movies). But drug usage is not really a problem for them as they try to assemble their misguided lives into some kind of advanced direction. Their problems reside in the fearsome world of post-collegiate indecision.
Wendy is deeply embedded in a secure relationship with her oblivious chucklehead boyfriend, Kyle (“Parks and Recreation” regular Chris Pratt). Matt disapproves of their union because he knows that matrimony with Kyle means an existence of suburban enslavement for his sister. Pratt plays Kyle with a touch of that empty-headed goofiness that makes his character on “Parks” such an innocent joy to watch. Kyle is not a true villain, just an obstacle for Wendy as she considers the alternatives for her future. Pratt’s role in this film is reminiscent of Cary Elwes’ memorable Magoo-like Jerry in “Liar Liar”. He offers her everlasting security at the price of being married to an unmistakable tool.
Whereas Wendy is comfortable within the friendly bubble of Kyle’s fratlike parties, Matt is despondent and dejected from the social banter. In fact, he is so ashamed of his job at the shopping mall Suncoast store, he poses as a Goldman Sachs employee to win the affection of the surrounding socialites, including his former high school crush, Tori (Teresa Palmer).
Some people may find this deception puzzling, especially when you consider that the first Suncoast store did not open until 1986 in Minnesota, just two years before the story takes place. And what an interesting layout for a Suncoast store in L.A. too. The movies on the shelves are not categorized or alphabetized in any order whatsoever. It’s the kind of lazy set decoration that makes you wonder if the production designer ever stepped inside a Suncoast shop.
But nitpicking aside, the real problems of this story exist within the overall story structure, which belongs in a “Three’s Company” episode. In an age where young and funny actors are becoming harder to find, the dependable talents of Grace and Faris are used to the best of their abilities throughout the mindless plotline. These two actors understand anarchist comedy and can perform it by whatever means necessary in order to achieve an honest laugh. In this picture, however, they both endure exhausted comedy conventions as the narrative attempts to explore character growth through outrageous and predictable circumstance.
This is primarily the fault of the screenwriters, Jackie and Jeff Filgo of “That ‘70s Show” fame. Based on a truly lame story idea by Grace and Gordon Kaywin, their script is empty of heart, irony, or believable character. As a result, the audience is forced to witness scripted scenes of Grace and Palmer playing The Penis Game and Truth or Dare.
Like all bad comedies, there are some decent laughs tucked deep within the agonizing comedy sequences. Demetri Martin practically steals the picture without even getting up as a wheelchaired smartass who actually works at Goldman Sachs. Like the major players in “Take Me Home Tonight”, his timing for comic delivery is impeccable and genuine. It is just a shame that the screenwriters could not incorporate more of his acerbic wit in order to brighten up the weak comedy or barely-present plot.
TAKE ME HOME TONIGHT