TAKE ME HOME TONIGHT Review

It is hard to criticize a film that seems to really want to be better than the standard teen party flick. The fact Topher Grace stars and had a hand in writing the story helps raise the credibility here considerably. The guy should have made something like this closer to his final days on "That 70's Show" . This follows the tone of that show closer than some of his other projects and it is obvious there is a special place in his heart for this film. And while it may not be a great movie, it does make for a fun two hours. It is a nice escape and offers todays youthful audience a glimpse at what they might have been like in an alternate 80's universe. While the era may not be of any real relevance to the story, it is always nice to have a soundtrack full of 80's hits and to gawk at the outfits that now look hideous. And though the main crowds that will venture out to see probably weren't even born in that decade, it at the very least carries a Hughes-inspired story that will still relate the same way to the youth of today as his movies of the 80's did to the youth then.

And while Grace and his fellow cast mates are a little old to be playing college graduates we are never too distracted by this fact but instead are wrapped up in the story of each of these main characters, and how, in the course of one night they will learn to face their issues and take control of their lives. It is all genuine enough that the movie never feels like a concocted story to fit in cliches of a film of this type nor does it ever try to hard to remind us this is based in the eighties with forced jokes. Instead it is paced smoothly, following a predictable but fun path. We can see exactly where the end of the night will leave these characters, but it is these characters that make the ride of the night so much fun and it is due to the great cast of comic actors that they pull this rather typical party night storyline above what my expectations were going in.

Besides Grace, what I once considered the poor mans Jack Black, now better known as Dan Fogler makes a strong impression as Grace's Matt Franklins's best friend who decided to skip college and go straight into selling cars. Fogler has never really played a different character in his array of films I have seen him in, but he at least has his persona down pat. He is loud, obnoxious, with a bit of reverence and after being fired from his job, he seems to be up for trying anything under the moon. Fogler gets the most laugh out loud moments here, while Grace is more of the straight man with a more smart, subtle sense of humor. Also along for the ride is the always amusing Anna Faris as Grace's twin sister who is afraid to open her letter from Cambridge University in fear that she may not have been accepted. Not helping the situation is that her boyfriend proposes and has no aspirations that go past his flipped collar. As Faris' on screen boyfriend, Parks and Rec's Chris Pratt is simply another reason to love the characters inhabiting this film. Pratt is a gifted funnyman and seeing as this was filmed a year or so before his break on Parks he proves a diverse character and an actor who enjoys and is capable of playing a variety of male types.

Not to mention a ton of great little cameos from the likes of British comedian Lucy Punch as an obsessed weirdo who still has a thing for Matt. There is also a gothed up Michelle Trachtenberg who encourages Foglers Barry to do whatever he wants without holding back. To top it off Demetri Martin and Michael Ian Black make some hilarious cameos, Martin especially providing some of the funniest bits in the film. Lastly, as the high school crush Matt never had the nerve to ask out, Teresa Palmer plays up the teased hair and the styles of the time perfectly. The girl obviously knows what its like to be admired and she uses that to play up her status. In the end it is the journey that matters more than the ending, and in "Take Me Home Tonight" it is a fun if not fully satisfying adventure. Grace has a bright future and this will no doubt either help or hinder his career, but he needs to start stepping it up soon. He can't play the confused teen forever.