And so once again we find ourselves reviewing a “comedy” in name only. Take Me Home Tonight, a romantic comedy-thing starring Topher Grace, Anna Faris, Dan Fogler and Teresa Palmer, is a curious case of mediocrity. It’s watchable and well-acted but the story’s so flimsy that it barely stretches across the 97 minute running time, and it boasts only two or three chuckle-worthy jokes to its credit. Everything in Take Me Home Tonight feels thoroughly token, which is fitting. It’s barely worth bus fare, let alone a full admission price or Blu-Ray rental.
Grace stars as Matt Franklin, a recent M.I.T. graduate so lacking in direction that he got lost on the way to success and wandered back into his old job at Suncoast Video. He’s had a crush on Tori Frederking (Palmer) since high school, but – yawn – never had the courage to ask her out. When he finally encounters her again he spins a devious web of lies to keep her interest, claiming to work at Goldman Sachs. Actually, that’s not so much a web as a puny little thread. Somehow the film pads this plot point throughout the entire film, buffering it with a familiar “one crazy night at a party” storyline, but with the exception of an occasional aside with Matt’s best friend Barry (Fogler), it rarely gets crazy. Gone are the days of Bachelor Party, in which spontaneous donkey shows were the height of nuttiness. Here we get dance-offs and a bizarre subplot about rolling downhill in a giant metal ball that looks for all the world like an ancient Roman form of execution.
Lots of comedies go “too far” these days, but Take Me Home Tonight doesn’t go nearly far enough. Not that it needed copious poopy jokes or pervasive “adult language.” No, what it’s sorely missing is ambition. Topher Grace’s character lacks it as a plot point, but even his misguided attempts to get the girl through good-natured subterfuge are lacking. Lying about your job is nothing compared to, say, lying about being in a motorcycle gang or living a secret life as a ninja. Duplicitous romantic comedy plotlines are only as good, and as funny, as the effort it takes to maintain them. So when all Grace has to do is say something math-related to keep up his ruse, both the comedy and the precious audience involvement is roughly zero. The lack of thought that went into the plotline invades all the characters and set pieces as well, leaving a film that just sits there like a lazy cat, eager to be regarded but unwilling to put any effort into it. Maybe the film is just being passive-aggressive, I don’t know.
Take Me Home Tonight comes home on Blu-Ray with a pretty transfer that boasts bold, 1980’s-styled colors, which is fitting since the movie takes place in the 1980’s for no particular reason that I can discern. The setting is neither a running gag, Wedding Singer style, or a thematic necessity, American Psycho style. It’s just a random selling point, wandering about the film aimlessly. The music video included with the Blu-Ray offers more nostalgic 1980’s fun, and indeed more fun in general, than the movie that surrounds it. Special features like the mostly unfunny deleted scenes are present, and probably unasked for.
Take Me Home Tonight supposedly sat on a shelf unreleased because of its pervasive drug content (Fogler does a lot of cocaine), but I don’t buy that. The drug use is omnipresent but hardly malignant, and is consistently viewed by the other characters with judgment and derision, preventing it from ever feeling glamorous. No, I suspect Take Me Home Tonight sat on the shelf because somebody actually saw it and didn’t have a response passionate enough to even bother jotting down a release date on the company calendar. It’s not “bad,” it just might as well not exist. Take something else home tonight instead.
CRAVE Online Rating (Film): 4/10
CRAVE Online Rating (Blu-Ray): 6.5/10