Jul 012011

“Take Me Home Tonight” stars Topher Grace as “Matt Franklin”, an MIT grad who just doesn’t know what he wants to do with his life, so he’s working at Suncoast Video in the mall. Yes, the place that NONE of us ever bought movies from, because their prices were ridiculous. How did that franchise last as long as it did?
But I digress…
Matt is turned off by all the materialism and race for success of the 1980′s, so he just wants to keep things simple at the video store while he figures it out. That is, until his high school crush “Tori”, played by Teresa Palmer returns home after college, and walks into his store. From here, the basic formula of “Guy lies to impress girl….guy meets girl at party and spends night trying to build on lie….girl finds out…guy is sorry and never meant to hurt her….girl gives him another chance after realizing he’s a great guy after all” plays out.
Now, I don’t mean to be condescending about that…there’s a reason that we’ve seen this a million times…it’s because it works in a lot of cases. However, it only works, when it’s done really well.

There are two problems with “Take Me Home Tonight” that immediately jump out at you after viewing it.

First, it never once feels like the 80′s while you’re watching it.
Note to directors….simply throwing in “Everybody Wang Chung Tonight” does NOT immediately send us back in time to the 1980′s.
People actually need to have the hairstyles that they had back then; this is a BIG failure on almost every 80′s flashback film I’ve seen. The actor pops their collar, while maintaining his current hairstyle, and I’m supposed to be sold? Also, I seem to remember EVERY girl I knew, having big hair to some degree. It may have only been that poof ball in the front, or whatever that was…but they ALL had it.
What was that, anyway? You all looked like poodles….poodles with really slutty make-up and tight clothes that had lots of lace.
You were all so hot….and slutty looking….where did the time go? :( <--I put it a smiley to bring us back to present day! Anyway, I don't recall a single girl having a hairstyle that resembled anything that passes for a style from today....so STOP IT with that in these flashback films. Also, I never went into a record store...in say, 1988, that had promo posters from every big album of the entire decade. Madonna's "Like A Virgin" wasn't in the mix with Guns And Roses "Appetite For Destruction", because they were YEARS apart from each other, and stores were promoting current releases; it would be ok to reflect that, fellas. Furthermore, I believe this film was set in 1989...so why would you have guys breakdancing still? I know that shit is back NOW, but it was very much OUT then. Oh, and for god sake, no one EVER said “Remember when you did that, that Summer? Yeah, you whipped it good!”
We didn’t SPEAK in 80′s song.
On that note…vomiting EVERY cliche’ from the 80′s into one two hour movie, doesn’t make it the 80′s either, The Wedding Singer.

But, here’s the weirdest part of all, about halfway through the film, Take Me Home Tonight simply abandons it’s building of 80′s scenery.
It’s as if it says “Ok, enough of that…you get the point” to it’s audience.

That brings us to the second thing that jumps out at you after viewing this film….it never *needed* to be set in the 80′s.
There was literally nothing about this story that couldn’t have been told in the life of a present day post grad.
So why the 80′s gimmick?
Because it was just that…a gimmick to bring in audiences.

So what you’re left with is a cookie cutter “guy goes after girl he always had a crush on” story that you’ve seen a million times before, and a half hearted (at best), 80′s flashback film.

What have we learned in closing?
First we have learned that simply calling something an 80′s Flashback film, doesn’t make it so. There’s is a fine balance of creating scenery that feels right, while not overdoing it. And HAIRSTYLES, PEOPLE…HAIRSTYLES!!!!

We also learned that if you want to see a “Dorky guy gets girl he has a crush on” film, set in the 80′s…..go watch “Some Kind Of Wonderful”. At least it’s authentic.