They say college is a time to figure out the rest of your life, but not everyone is lucky enough to get this done before they are released into the real world. With the knowledge of an MIT grad, Matt Franklin is unfortunate enough to fall into this camp, finding himself living up to a fraction of his potential working in Suncoast Video. However, when his high school crush walks back into his life as a customer at his store he realizes that the Labor Day party that night may finally provide the opportunity for his life to begin.
Seeing as I was born the year this film is set my memory of the 80s isn’t really existent, and I luckily lacked the proper amount of hair in 1988 to rock the side pony, but I still know enough to appreciate some of the films of this decade. Which is exactly what Take Me Home Tonight tries to accomplish. Instead of drawing attention to certain elements of the decade to solely make fun of it (though it is impossible not to laugh at a lot of it anyway just for how ridiculous it seems today), it more or less pays tribute by setting up the film to feel as if it was actually created during this time, a la the classic John Hughes films.
With the additional freedom to drop F-bombs freely and show of lady-bits that comes with creating an R-rated comedy of today, the story is just as accessible as it was then to connect to the target audience of today. Topher Grace plays Matt, bringing back his well-known acting skills when it comes to portraying the unconfident guy who fails to communicate effectively with the girl he is crushing on. But this time around he doesn’t have a Todd Hamilton to compete against, just himself as he continues to ponder what he is supposed to do with the rest of his life as many college grads find themselves doing.
Though this makes the film pretty easy to connect to, at least for me, it never forgets to remain a fun party film at its base, full of different characters living outside their lives for just one night. Anna Faris and Dan Fogler play Grace’s support group, and though they have some great moments on their own, especially Fogler as he ventures out in his exploration of mind altering substances, it is always when a combo of two or all three of them team back up that their relationships and characters become most enjoyable. I know personally I would have loved to see more scenes between Grace and Faris’ twins, but eventually Grace has to fly from the nest as he tries to connect with his high school crush, played by Teresa Palmer. The chemistry between these two works well, and though no one will ever play the penis game as well as Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel in (500) Days of Summer in my mind, I could not help but root for this relationship, as any hopeless romantic will do.
Though I have some minor gripes about the film, it does succeed in creating an 80s style film with a story and hilarious characters that make it hard not to enjoy.
Final Grade: B
For some additional 80s love, check out the music video for Atomic Tom’s “Don’t You Want Me,” which includes some cast members recreating memorable looks and scenes from past films.