Thursday, March 10, 2011


It’s Labor Day 1988 in Michael Dowse’s Take Me Home Tonight. There’s a big suburban house party being thrown by and for recent college grads as a sort of impromptu early high school reunion arranged by those who were in the popular crowd. Topher Grace goes hoping to impress his high school crush (Teresa Palmer) even though his MIT diploma has so far only landed him a minimum-wage job at Suncoast Video. (Remember those?) His sister (a curiously muted Anna Faris) is there as well because her long-time boyfriend (a strangely low-key Chris Pratt) is the host. This is all affable enough, at times, though Dan Fogler as Grace’s sloppy best friend seems to be in an entirely different movie, falling all over situations of poorly executed slapstick and incongruous sex-and-drugs gags. It’s a frustrating, distracting underbelly to an otherwise pleasant movie that takes place all on one night, mostly in and around this one party overflowing with 80’s music in the speakers and 80’s fashion on the extras. I appreciated the movie’s good-natured romanticism, which is presented in ways that are totally cliché, but at least it’s not a self-conscious and rancid 80’s nostalgia comedy like last year’s Hot Tub Time Machine, a movie that I find curdling in my memory. It’s not making fun of the 80’s or using its period-piece trappings to poke easy fun with anachronistic winks. If it weren’t for the modern cast it could almost pass as a minor 80’s rom-com. But “minor” is the key word here. Though there’s much to like and a little to tolerate, the movie is never more than a minor diversion. It’s sweet, but never charming. It’s likable without ever really getting around to being more than forgettable. It belongs to a certain category of movies that exist in the mind of the viewer just until the credits roll and not too long after.

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