Take Me Home Tonight: Film Review

Relativity Media
On second thought, just get me out of here.

Topher Grace and Dan Fogler star in Michael Dowse's aggressively unfunny film which seeks the lowest common denominator in nearly every scene.

Flailing away beneath a pile-on of failed slapstick, dead-weight jokes, hammy acting and bad writing rests a tiny, possibly even intriguing comedy in Take Me Home Tonight about young people struggling to grasp a future they’re not certain they even want. This slip of a story never stands a chance of emerging though as director Michael Dowse’s aggressive approach to comedy utterly buries it.

Seeking the lowest common denominator in every scene during the first and much of the second act, the movie rams its idea of madcap comedy at a viewer until numbness sets in. So when a tentative relationship between a guy at loose ends and the girl he carried a torch for during high school starts to surface, you barely notice.

Trailers and posters that emphasize the bacchanalian overload of a late’80s-era party may entice younger viewers. Otherwise this is a DVD few will want to take home tonight or any night.

The film’s star, Topher Grace, has been a friend of fellow exec producer Gordon Kaywin since age 15. The two say they wanted to develop a comedy based on a longtime male friendship where high school and even college are very much in the rear-view mirror. But the first problem one notices in this script by That '70s Show vets Jackie and Jeff Filgo, written to their exec producers’ specifications, is that the movie’s key friendship makes no sense.

Sure, Grace’s Matt Franklin, is momentarily directionless despite an engineering degree from MIT. But Dan Fogler’s Barry, a car salesman and a fired one at that, is an emotional adolescent. Now you could do a movie about two guys with nothing in common other than a shared high-school past but this movie isn’t that smart — it keeps insisting a strong bond exists between these two despite the fact nothing in the movie validates such a notion.

Matt is a cop’s son, which doesn’t mean he needs to be a Boy Scout. But would he really accompany a “friend” who steals a car, drives under the influence of many substances, starts fights at a party, then crashes that stolen car while sampling the coke he finds in the glove compartment?

This friendship makes no more sense than the movie’s main set-up that Matt, a good looking guy with plenty of brains -- if that MIT degree means anything -- couldn’t/wouldn’t get a date with former high school hottie Tori (Teresa Palmer). Or that Matt’s equally smart twin sister Wendy (Anna Faris) would even think of accepting a marriage proposal from a thick-headed party boy (Chris Pratt).

All this dithering by seemingly smart people goes without a real motivation. It isn’t as if the engineer suddenly wants to join a rock band or the Peace Corp or an ashram. According to the screenplay, he is simply hiding from life by working in a video store and has absolutely no idea what he wants to do with that life. Really? Not even a dream?

He and Tori only link up when she realizes she is as lost and miserable as Matt -- they have that in common at least -- just as Barry finds a soul mate in Kitchelle (Michelle Trachtenberg), whose youthful nihilism jibes with Barry’s self-destructive urges. However, not before Barry has a bizarre encounter with a kinky sexual predator (Angie Everhart) that belongs in a much different movie.

You’d give none of these “relationships” more than another 24 hours -- max.

Indeed when dawn breaks and so does a party in a Hollywood Hillside retreat, you wonder what if anything has been resolved or learned. Matt is no closer to any of life’s goals, Barry is still without a job -- nor can you imagine anyone hiring him -- and Tori may want to remember the number of lies Matt told to score with her. You wind up thinking that maybe the movie about the sexual predator would’ve been the better one, after all. At least she knew what she wanted.