Take Me Home Tonight

a film by Michael Dowse

Take Me Home Tonight, the post-college coming-of-age story set on Labor Day 1988 and starring Topher Grace, Teresa Palmer, Dan Fogler and Anna Faris, is an innocuous enough movie (sort of Old School meets Pretty in Pink, but not as offensive as the former nor as charming as the latter) but never, for any more than a few minutes at a time, does it soar above the mediocrity that is the downfall of much of mainstream moviemaking. Granted, there are moments of charm and sincerity (mainly from Grace, but also Palmer and Faris on occasion) and episodes of manic giddy chutzpah (that would be Mr. Fogler's department) and listening to the background soundtrack did give this critic, just one year removed from the characters in the film, many foot tapping, head bopping moments sitting in the theater (cheesy as it may very well be, I defy anyone of my generation to not get a chill up their spine when they hear the opening notes of Dexy's Midnight Runners' Come on Eileen) but never does the film come together enough to form the basis for a solid motion picture experience.

Nothing very surprising ever happens here (though the rather mature performance of ex-House Bunny Anna Faris, not playing her usual bimbo, but having a brain instead, may come as a surprise to anyone who did not catch her brief but entertaining few moments in Brokeback Mountain) but since director Michael Dowse and producer/star (and from whom the original story idea came) Topher Grace were trying to recreate not only the feel of the 1980's but also a movie that could have been made in that same decade, any false hope of originality and/or plot novelty should probably be either forgiven or forgotten. What this movie lacks, other than the aforementioned originality no one should even expect it to have in the first place, is enough of a storyline to keep one's interests piqued past the fun music (if one is of that generation, which I am guessing the majority of this film's audience are not) the dorky charm of Mr. Grace (That 70's Show alum who seems to be slowly creeping his way up the chronological career ladder) or the frenetic mess of Mr. Fogler's sad and demented sidekick (to again use an 80's reference - the Jon Cryer or Anthony Michael Hall of his generation).

Grace and the blonde Kristen Stewart doppelganger Palmer (an Aussie doing a pitch perfect American accent) do have a certain chemistry in the film (which they damn well should, since they are a real life couple) and those piercing blue eyes of hers are hard to take your own eyes off of, but still the movie gives us nothing much that we haven't already seen a thousand times before (some better some worse) and therefore has a sum that is worth less than any of its individual parts. So I suppose, what I am trying to say is, Take Me Home Tonight (which incidentally does not use the song for which the title is ostensibly taken, any where during its 97 minute runtime - what, does Eddie Money suddenly have scruples!?) is a somewhat enjoyable, if not a bit tired and ordinary or as I said in my opening salvo, innocuous enough. A far cry from a rave review, and probably a bit short of an actual recommendation as well, but about the best anyone is going to get out of this critic. [03/10/11]