FILM REVIEW: Take Me Home Tonight (15)

The 1980s was definitely the decade that fashion forgot, which accounts for the profusion of bouffant hair-dos and shoulder pads in Michael Dowse’s nostalgic romantic comedy.

Set in 1988, Take Me Home Tonight is a sweet yet exceedingly slight tale of unrequited love and narcotic excess as seen through the bloodshot eyes of 23-year-old twins, who must make bold decisions about their future and stumble awkwardly towards adulthood.

The script, co-written by Jackie Filgo and Jeff Filgo, unfolds largely over the course of one eventful night at a house party where the boozy protagonists lose their inhibitions and in some cases, their dignity.

Dowse stretches out the party, which would amount to a brief interlude in any other coming-of-age story, to the best part of an hour, punctuated with gross-out humour including a clumsy coupling in a bathroom and an anti-climactic dance-off.

The film’s misguided hero is Matt (Topher Grace) who has recently graduated from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.) and should be clambering up the corporate ladder.

Instead, Matt is directionless, biding his time with a thankless job in a video store.

“I didn’t give a quarter of my savings to M.I.T. for you to work at the mall,” warns his police officer father (Michael Biehn).

In the midst of his ennui, Matt encounters childhood crush Tori Frederking (Teresa Palmer) and in a moment of panic, he tries to impress her by pretending to be a banker with Goldman Sachs.

They meet up later that night at a party thrown by Kyle (Chris Pratt), boyfriend of Matt’s twin sister Wendy (Anna Faris).

Meanwhile, Matt’s best friend Barry (Dan Fogler), who he has known since fifth grade, drinks himself to oblivion to numb the pain of losing his job.

Take Me Home Tonight doesn’t deviate from a well-worn narrative path, bringing Matt and Tori together by deception, then watching the emotional fallout when the lie is exposed.

Grace is an endearing hero and he shares sparky screen chemistry with Faris as the feisty sibling, who despairs every time Matt’s dissects his obsession with Tori.

“I’ve been hearing this story since we shared our mother’s uterus!” she rails.

Palmer looks pretty in close-up but Fogler is surplus to requirements, demoted to the butt of the bad taste jokes so Grace’s insecure hero never loses his sheen of wholesomeness.

The soundtrack is a glorious step back in time, opening with the unmistakable electronic beat of The Buggles’ Video Killed The Radio Star.

Hungry Like The Wolf by Duran Duran, Safety Dance by Men Without Hats and Come On Eileen by Dexy’s Midnight Runners conjure fond memories and when the heavily lacquered Tori first walks into the party, she makes her slow-motion entrance to Kim Carnes’s anthemic Bette Davis Eyes.

Fashion sucked but the pop rocked.

By Damon Smith

:: SWEARING :: SEX :: VIOLENCE :: RATING: 5/10

Released: May 13 (UK & Ireland), 98 mins