Friday, September 27, 2013

Take Me Home Tonight (2011)(Spoiler Review)

**This review contains spoilers**

In 1980’s Los Angeles, a young Matt Franklin (Topher Grace) is still trying to find himself. Four years after his high school graduation, Matt is still working at a Suncoast Video store within the local mall. Matt, unsure of his future, recently graduated from MIT, but Matt’s father, Bill (Michael Biehn), who also works nights as a police officer, doesn’t like the idea of Matt wasting precious time and his hard earned life savings by working a dead end job. But Matt focuses all of his energy on a new goal, when his high school crush, Tori Frederking (Teresa Palmer) strolls into Suncoast Video one day.

Meanwhile, Matt’s twin sister, Wendy (Anna Faris), is dreading the thought of another rejection letter after applying to the University Of Cambridge. But Matt is more worried about the reaction from Wendy’s controlling and overbearing boyfriend, Kyle Masterson (Chris Pratt), because Matt knows Kyle will do anything to keep Wendy from chasing her dreams, so she can settle for the life of a common housewife.

Before the night of Kyle’s annual Labor Day bash, Matt’s best friend, Barry Nathan (Dan Fogler) is fired from his job as a car salesman, but later that night, Barry decides to steal a red Mercedes-Benz convertible from the lot for revenge. With Wendy’s help, and an old friend from high school named Carlos (Demetri Martin), who is also a current Goldman Sachs employee, Matt devises a plan to convince Tori of a wealthy lifestyle, including his brand new Mercedes-Benz, and Matt’s successful career as a big time player at Goldman Sachs.

Although, Matt runs into some unexpected problems at Kyle’s party, when Barry finds a bag of cocaine in the Mercedes’ glove compartment, and Matt’s conscience gets the best of him after a romantic night with Tori. But Matt seizes the opportunity for one final chance to prove himself, and earn a second chance from Tori after he volunteers to ride The Ball with Kyle behind the driver’s seat.

Looking for a new, exciting, and refreshing romantic comedy/coming of age film? Well, you should look somewhere else, because Take Me Home Tonight isn’t for you. Take Me Home Tonight features the common set of characters you would expect in a coming of age film. Matt is your typical shy and nerdy male teenager, who’s awkward and nervous around women, and he’s trying to break out of his shell, so he can become a man. Tori is the seemingly unattainable perfect ten, who everyone man dreams of being with. Kyle is the meathead/jock, and he’s a bully with a superficial ego. And Barry is the bumbling fool of a sidekick.

Don’t expect any genuine surprises either. Once Matt tells the truth to Tori, you know what’s going to happen. Tori will hate Matt’s guts for a while, but Matt will redeem himself with a big speech (or in this case speeches) at the end, and Tori will forgive him. Tori sparks a fire in Matt, when she dismisses him as a another “scared little boy,” so Matt takes Tori’s insult as a challenge, and he decides to ride The Ball. Long story short, The Ball is a big metallic ball, and the person inside has to ride it out, as The Ball rolls down a steep hill, once the driver releases The Ball by backing up in a pickup truck. Anyway, Matt’s act of bravery wins Tori’s heart, and she gives him a kiss and her phone number to end the movie.

Take Me Home Tonight is predictable as predictable can be, but I still love this film. Grace provides one of the best performances I’ve seen from him, as this lost and confused screw-up, who’s trying to find his way in the world. Michael Biehn is a suitable fit for the stern father, Faris and Pratt share some great chemistry as a couple (not surprising, because they’re a couple in real life too), and her performance isn’t something special, but Palmer has the right look for the “dream girl.” Fogler is annoying as shit more often than not, but he has a few funny moments (“he’s got no testes left!”) throughout the movie. Demetri Martin’s screen time is limited, but he’s hilarious, as the paraplegic with an ironic sense of humor. Michael Ian Black’s Pete Bering is good for a few laughs, as Tori’s perverted, geeky, and slimy boss. And I can't forget about Lucy Punch's Shelly. Punch portrays this nutty, delusional, and obsessive stalker, who follows Matt around throughout the night with the hopes of a one night stand. Punch is limited to sporadic appearances, but she provides a nice touch of quirky humor as Shelly during her limited screen time.  

For me, Take Me Home Tonight has enough likeable characters, who you can root for to overlook the formulaic pattern here. Matt’s speech before he rides The Ball is a good example. Matt takes all that frustration, fear, and rage, and with one speech, he opens up about what most kids are feeling after they graduate high school (i.e. the fear of a new world, and growing up). 

Faris tones down her usual over the top and goofy persona to portray the nagging and rival twin sister role (she’s still funny, though). But Wendy has one of the better feel good moments, when she finally stands up to Kyle by calling off the planned marriage, and dumping Kyle after Wendy realizes Kyle is more concerned with stroking his own ego. Pratt’s Kyle being a major douchebag and crying afterwards helps, but Faris’ deserves most of the credit for her stern and straightforward delivery.

Take Me Home Tonight is loaded with a lot of authentic 80’s nostalgia (everything from the intro, to the music, the hairstyles, the cars, the clothes, dances, and the lone Scarface reference), and if (that’s a big IF) you’re willing to overlook the predictability, you can have a lot of fun with this one. Yeah, I know. There’s a good chance a lot of people will roll their eyes at Palmer’s Tori, because some will have a hard time believing in one person being so gullible, and well, stupid, as Matt randomly pulls all of these lies out of left field, while improvising a backstory step by step for his fake career at Goldman Sachs.

Still, Take Me Home Tonight features a rock solid cast, consistent laughs, and despite all the negativity surrounding this film, Take Me Home Tonight isn‘t so unbearably bad to the point, where you can‘t stand to watch it. Take Me Home Tonight won’t raise the bar for coming of age films and romantic comedies, but if you’re looking for a real chance to have some fun and laugh, Take Me Home Tonight isn‘t a bad choice.

Rating: 8/10

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