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Saturday, March 5, 2011

Take Me Home Tonight




There was Hot Tub Time Machine last year and now Take Me Home Tonight brings Hollywood to a 0-2 record in recent 1980's themed nostalgia comedies.  In Take Me Home Tonight, Topher Grace plays Liar McLiar, a numbers genius MIT grad who chooses to squander his potential by working at Suncoast Video. He claims he's just taking his time until he finds out what he wants to do, but he isn't.  The one thing Grace does know is who he wants to do - his knockout high school crush Teresa Palmer, who's back in town post-graduation and about to intern at an investment bank. To impress Palmer, Grace lies that he works for Goldman Sachs, and then keeps lying and lying until he can't lie no more. Later, they attend the Labor Day bash hosted by wealthy trust fund baby Chris Pratt, who is the fiance of Grace's twin sister Anna Faris. Take Me Home Tonight commits multiple crimes against the audience, like shooting from a dreadful screenplay lacking in actual wit, but its most repugnant creation is Grace's loud boorish sidekick played by Dan Fogler. Fogler is as unpleasant and unsympathetic a character as any that has ever been vomited on movie screens. Take Me Home Tonight is a movie where a bunch of 22+ year olds who have all graduated college don't seem to know or want anyone they didn't go to high school with. Grace and Palmer actually do have some chemistry but both actors are completely sabotaged by the clunker of a screenplay. Palmer is given a shell of a character to play, with more than half the movie expiring before she is even allowed more than one word to utter at a time.  In his best moment where he's actually allowed to be as intelligent as his character is purported to be, when he cons a slimy investment banker trying to bed Palmer at a party, Grace easily outpaces the material. Pratt and Faris are married in real life and have a couple of bright comedic beats together but their talents are ultimately squandered. I also lost count of how many times the characters in Take Me Home Tonight said "Really", and in how many intonations. "Really. Really? Really? Really." On the plus side, Michael Biehn was wisely cast as Grace and Faris' cop dad. The soundtrack of 1980's pop hits is admittedly rad, but other than a gimmick to sell CDs and iTunes downloads, nothing about Take Me Home Tonight actually needed to be set in the '80s. Or be seen by audiences, as it turned out.