Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Take Me Home Tonight

I finally got around to digging out one of my guilty pleasure favorites out of my movie backlog box. I was a little trepid going in if it would hold up or not knowing that it bombed at the box office, and was not a critical darling by any means. It is not a five star comedy, but 2011’s Take Me Home Tonight (trailer) still had me cracking up as much as it did when it first hit nearly five years ago.

TMHT is a throwback coming-of-age comedy set in the mid-80s. Matt (Topher Grace) and Wendy (Anna Faris) are twins both facing major life changing moments on the same night. Wendy is about to move in with her boyfriend, Kyle (Chris Pratt) while Matt is struggling getting his ducks in a row after finishing college until he bumps into his high school crush, Tori (Teresa Palmer). Throw in Barry (Dan Fogler) as the stereotypical dumb-friend for comic relief, and you get a formula for a crazy night when everything comes to a head at Kyle’s annual mega party.

If you love retro films going over the top with the tropes of the times, then you are in for a ride with TMHT. All the pop hits of the 80s are featured nonstop throughout the soundtrack along with all the trademark fashion, hairstyles, cars, lingo and even stores since Matt works at a Suncoast video at the mall. Remember Suncoast and their ridiculously overpriced movies? It is probably best you do not. Not since Grand Theft Auto: Vice City and The Wedding Singer have I been so nostalgic for the 80s, and a big thing TMHT has going for it is experiencing that wild era.

Like another comedy I recently covered, Dirty Work, TMHT is a fairly predictable comedy that is all about the journey. You can almost anticipate how every scene is about to play out, but for whatever reason the dialogue had me cracking up for the most part and a lot of the jokes worked. Some of my favorite scenes were Matt conjuring up a great cover story to hide his real place of employment to impress Tori, and Barry competing in a dance off while on a cocaine trip.

The use of cocaine in a comedy film is why Universal sat on this picture for so long. The film was finished in 2007, but Universal held off releasing it until 2011. Topher Grace and TMHT’s writers, Jackie & Jeff Filgo were fresh off of That 70s Show when TMHT went into production. Chris Pratt was a couple years away from entering the public mainstream on the hit show, Parks and Rec, and well before his recent blockbuster films Jurassic World and Guardians of the Galaxy when he portrayed the stuck-up jock in TMHT.

It is too bad there is only one real extra feature that really shows the gap in release, and that is a brief, eight minute Cast Get Together extra where the five main stars meet up four years later and reminisce about auditioning and share random production stories. There are 11 minutes of deleted scenes I actually recommend checking out. A couple scenes are unnecessary early plot setup scenes, but there is a must-see deleted scene on how Barry handles getting fired from his car salesman job early in the film, and another with my favorite supporting character of the film, Carlos, as he just kills it with some fantastic ad-libbing with Matt. A music video featuring a cover of Don’t You Want Me rounds off the extras for the DVD. The crazy gap in the release leaves a desirable story to be told, and I would have loved an audio commentary track or a more in-depth behind-the-scenes feature telling that story. Someone track down director, Michael Dowse, stat!

If you are a fan of comedy period pieces like American Graffitti, Wedding Singer or Dazed and Confused then it is a safe bet to take a chance on Take Me Home Tonight. It more than likely went under your radar based on its theatrical and critical performance, but this is an ideal popcorn film to sit down with friends and your favorite beverages on a movie marathon night.

Other Random Backlog Movie Blogs

12 Angry Men (1957)
21 Jump Street
Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie
Atari: Game Over
The Avengers: Age of Ultron
Batman: Mask of the Phantasm
Bounty Hunters
Cabin in the Woods
Captain America: The First Avenger
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Clash of the Titans (1981)
Clint Eastwood 11-pack Special
Dirty Work
Field of Dreams
Fight Club
The Fighter
For Love of the Game
Good Will Hunting
Hercules: Reborn
Man of Steel
Marine 3 & 4
Mortal Kombat
The Replacements
Rocky I-VI
Running Films Part 1
Running Films Part 2
ScoobyDoo Wrestlemania Mystery
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
Source Code
Star Trek I-XII
Take Me Home Tonight
The Tooth Fairy 1 & 2
Veronica Mars
The Wrestler (2008)

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