Poor Matt Franklin (Topher Grace: Predators) is having a bummer of a year. After graduating from MIT, Matt decides to forgo a career working for the corporate machine. Instead, he works at the mall’s Suncoast Video — which is a corporation, but don’t tell Matt — and makes plans for his future.
Matt sees his opportunity to turn his loser luck around when his high school crush, Tori Frederking (Teresa Palmer: I Am Number Four), visits the store. He lies to Tori, telling her he’s a big time Goldman Sachs banker, and gets her interested enough to invite him to a party. He has a few hours to make himself appear successful so he can get the girl.
To do this, Matt, his twin sister Wendy (Anna Faris: Yogi Bear) and his car salesman best friend Barry (Dan Fogler: Love Happens) steal a car, acquire a bag full of coke and speed off to the party. Hijinks, of course, ensue.
Take Me Home Tonight loves the 1980s, in a, like, totally superficial way. Instead of delving into the decade and giving a sense of the times, the movie is satisfied to skim the pop-culture like an I Love the ’80s special on VH1.
The big party, which is easily 80 percent of the movie, is loaded with so many references to better films you wonder why director Mike Dowse (FUBAR: Balls to the Wall) bothered making this one. Coke is snorted, breasts are bared, neon colors swirl in sickening patterns and hair is so big, its Aquaneted strands have a gravitational pull. It’s like Bachelor Party but without a likeable lead or a sensible plot. I’m all for hijinks, but why are these people still partying together? Didn’t they make any friends in college? Or were postgraduate keggers with former high school classmates a big thing in the 1980s?
In dusting off its favorite 1980s’ references, the film brings some of the decade’s stars out of mothballs. It’s nice to see Michael Biehn of Terminator fame and Angie Everheart of hot redheaded model fame spoofing the era that brought them fame.
The film doesn’t have such a light touch with its main characters. Grace’s Matt is the most insufferable brat to ever attempt a Rob Lowe pout. Matt’s mad at his cop father (Biehn) for wanting him to find a career path, he’s pouty that his sister is dating a guy he doesn’t like, and mostly he’s resentful that he never got a chance to ask out Tori Frederking. Don’t get me wrong, Matt stalked her diligently through high school, but the fact that she never realized it or at least never alerted the authorities makes Matt feel like she owes him a chance.
So he lies to her and stalks her through a wild party because he loves her.
Gosh girls, isn’t he dreamy?
More infuriating, the film never addresses the fundamental contradiction that Matt reviles commercialism and corporate America but dreads having Tori realize that he’s — gasp — middle class instead of rich.
Fogler’s supporting work takes a page from the well-worn Jack Black playbook, featuring a lot of wild gesticulations, yelling and smarmy actions. Lacking Black’s moderate charm, Fogler is vaguely creepy, appearing bizarrely older than his cast mates. By the time he made out with Michelle Trachtenburg (Cop Out) — tarted up in Goth-style clothes but still looking about 14 — I was ready to call child services.
Instead of an ensemble homage to the decade and its madcap comedies, Take Me Home Tonight feels like a cheap imitation. After a few minutes of Matt’s whining, you’ll be wishing for the deft characters created by the late John Hughes.
As the credits rolled, my theater mate summed it up this way: “I know it was a bad movie, but I did get to see Angie Everheart topless.”
I have to give him credit for a fair assessment.