When Topher Grace started to venture into film towards the end of That 70’s Show‘s run, he expressed a personal need to do films he believed in and not doing something merely for the paycheck. Since then, he has starred in films from various genres. He became Venom in Spiderman 3, he fought with Adrien Brody in Predators, and now he’s after his high school crush in the 1980’s set Take Me Home Tonight.
Grace plays Matt Franklin, a recent MIT graduate who doesn’t know what he wants to do with his life. Stuck working at a mall Suncoast Video, Matt runs into his high school crush Tori. Too proud to let her know his current job, he lies and tells her he works for Goldman Sachs (which in itself is a joke in today’s climate). When she mentions a party, he calls up his best friend Barry (Dan Fogler) and so the adventure begins. The boys, with Matt’s twin sister Wendy (Anna Faris) in tow, head off to the party.
Matt spends most of the time at the party attempting to keep up his rich facade while Barry looks to live the night to its fullest. Matt runs into Tori, and ends up joining her friends at a second party with Barry not far behind. As the night goes on, Tori and Matt get to know each other and Barry gets into one scrap after another. Meanwhile, Wendy questions whether she wants to go to graduate school or stay with her boyfriend.
The film does a good job at capturing the feel of ’80s. The vibe is eerily reminiscent of Less Than Zero and similar films from the period. The costuming and architecture are right, yet in a post-modern the kind you can see still today kind of way. The soundtrack is purely hits from the 1980s, even if some of the songs feel a bit off on years. Based on my observations, and a few other sources, I pinpointed it to be 1988.
The jokes are more subtle and dry, but there are some jokes aimed for big laughs, mostly by Fogler. Despite most of the jokes falling flat, the film rarely reaches for clichés to ease the action. The plot is something we’ve all seen before, like a pre-Clinton era Can’t Hardly Wait. But where this film deviates is that Matt isn’t a naive high schooler, but a college graduate pushing up against the expectations of adulthood.
The film is true to its characters and even more true to the period its in, but the funny isn’t all there. A laugh-out-loud comedy this is not, but a smart homage to the ’80s. 2.5 out of 5 stars.