Take Me Home Tonight (2011) - Review

by - July 12, 2019

Synopsis: Four years after graduation, an awkward high school genius uses his sister's boyfriend's Labor Day party as the perfect opportunity to make his move on his high school crush.

Best. Night. Ever.

MIT graduate Matt Campbell (Topher Grace) is at a crossroads in his life. Despite his impressive degree, he's working at a video store in the mall and still lives at home with his parents and twin sister Wendy (Anna Faris). When his high school crush Tori (Teresa Palmer) walks into the video store, Matt concocts a lie about working for Goldman Sachs to impress her and Tori invites Matt to an end of summer party in Los Angeles hosted by Kyle Masterson (Chris Pratt), who just so happens to be Wendy's boyfriend. Determined to find some direction in his life and win the girl of his dreams, Matt attends the party and embarks on a rather wild night through Los Angeles with Tori and his best friend Barry (Dan Fogler).

Take Me Home Tonight is more or less a love letter to 80's film nostalgia. It does its best to invoke John Hughes but doesn't quite succeed. That doesn't mean it doesn't deserve some credit for trying. The story of the aimless college grad with the disappointed father and out of his league crush is nothing new. Matt's arc is pretty typical for this kind of movie. He's a nice guy. Handsome, intelligent and unable to meet his potential. At Kyle's party, he's surrounded by 80's cliches. Tori is the pretty prom queen who is dealing with her own post-college doubts now that she's unhappily working at an investment firm with creepy men who just want to hit on her. Barry is the loud, sometimes obnoxious best friend who gets fired and decides to try coke for the first time to cheer himself up. Wendy is a talented writer who wants more for herself while trying to justify staying with Kyle, a rich boy jock who clearly has never moved on from high school and seems to think Wendy's future is being his wife and popping out his kids. There are other minor characters who fit certain stereotypes. The stoner. The goth girl. The snarky asshole who actually works at Goldman Sachs and knows Matt is full of it. None of these characters are very original, and only a few of them are funny and worth watching.

That being said, Take Me Home Tonight also has a great 80's aesthetic, complete with the bright clothes, synth, and a soundtrack of the era's greatest hits. Topher Grace is a decent leading man who excels at playing the nice guy with a deadpan charm that somehow just works. He and Teresa Palmer have some pretty nice chemistry and the movie does a fairly decent job at giving Tori a personality rather than just turning her into the pretty love interest who is simply there to fulfill the fantasy of our hero. Wendy and Kyle have a subplot of their own. They're about to move in together and of course, Kyle proposes. But Wendy could be going to Cambridge for grad school to pursue her dream of becoming a writer, and Kyle is not supportive at all. He's a typical dick, and you can see the ending to this particular relationship from the moment we meet him. Wendy seems like a smart young woman with her whole future ahead of her, so I could not understand her interest in doofy Kyle at all. Barry... well, Barry just wants to have a good time after getting fired from his job at a car dealership. He gets high, he gets laid and he yells a lot. There's not much else going on there. Fogler is amusing at least... mostly.

The script borrows from plenty of other coming of age comedies in the genre, and some of the humor and character development falls flat. But there was enough laugh out loud moments that I was willing to forgive the otherwise lazy storytelling. Frankly, the best part for me was watching Matt chase after the object of his high school affection. There is something about the "nerdy guy wins the prom queen" trope that I find endearing, assuming both characters have enough likability and charisma to pull it off. Thankfully Grace and Palmer do.

This is not a romantic comedy I will probably watch again, but it's worth a viewing, especially if you love 80's nostalgia and throwbacks to John Hughes.

Starring: Topher Grace, Teresa Palmer, Anna Faris, Don Fogler, Chris Pratt
Directed by: Michael Dowse
Rated: R
Watched: 07.12.2019
Fun Facts:
- Being a big fan of The Terminator (1984) and Aliens (1986), Topher Grace personally called Michael Biehn and offered him the role of his father.
- Anna Faris and Chris Pratt met on the set of this movie and married a year later. They divorced in 2017.
- There was an extra in the party scenes with Tourette's syndrome who would frequently shout "Cut!" while filming scenes. Topher Grace said it happened at least 5 times.
- It took 4 years for this movie to get released due to delays regarding the film's drug use.
- Despite the title being named after the popular 80's tune by Eddie Money, Take Me Home Tonight never appears in the actual movie.
Notable Song: Bette Davis Eyes by Kim Carnes

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  1. Oh this sounds charming! But Pratt and Farris.....:/ I do like Topher, though. I adore "that 70's show" and he is so cute in that

    1. I really like Topher Grace and I kind of wonder what happened to him! Where has he been??

      Also, not a Pratt/Faris fan?? Admittedly Chris Pratt has gotten weird on me lately so IDK how I feel about him now.

    2. He was in Blackkklansman last year and I think he was in one of the new Black Mirror episodes, so he is doing well!

      Nah, the way they used to treat their pets was disgusting, they are both irresponsible and just terrible people

    3. Oooh! I hadn't heard anything about their pets D: I now remember Grace was in Blackkklansman! Derp. I haven't watched any Black Mirror episodes yet. I should probably get on that.


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