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Take Me Home Tonight(2011)
A coming of age comedy movie that follows an aimless college grad who pursues his dream girl at a wild Labor Day weekend party. He, his twin sister and their best friend struggle with their burgeoning adulthood over the course of the night.
For more about Take Me Home Tonight and the Take Me Home Tonight Blu-ray release, see Take Me Home Tonight Blu-ray Review published by Casey Broadwater on July 19, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Starring: Topher Grace, Anna Faris, Dan Fogler, Teresa Palmer (I), Chris Pratt, Michael Biehn
Director: Michael Dowse
» See full cast & crew
Take Me Home Tonight Blu-ray Review
Time machine, sans hot tub.
Reviewed by Casey Broadwater, July 19, 2011
If Take Me Home Tonight seems like a Johnny-come-lately to the just-about-dead "I Love the 1980s" pop culture nostalgia party—seriously, if you haven't noticed, the 1990s are now starting to take over as the decade de jour to semi-ironically venerate—it's not entirely the movie's fault. Though it was shot in 2007, a balking Universal Studios shelved the comedy in cinematic purgatory until Relativity Media acquired it and put the film in theaters this March. In the four years between the movie's production and release, the nation's flashback love affair with the Reagan era got hot and heavy, giving us—amongst others—the A-Team reboot, Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps, Adventureland, Hot Tub Time Machine, and a glut of '80s inspired music, awash in synthesizers and New Wave dance beats. But the infatuation is fading. Already, the cool kids are claiming that the 1980s were so 2008. This is unfortunate for Take Me Home Tonight, which is no comedic masterpiece but certainly doesn't deserve to be summarily dismissed as yet another tired '80s spoof. See, Take Me Home Tonight doesn't solely want to parody 1980s movies, it wants to be a 1980s movie, taking its cues from John Hughes and Cameron Crowe.
Of course, it can't live up to the likes of Sixteen Candles or Say Anything, but what did you expect? The worst you can say about Take Me Home Tonight is that it's predictable and utterly devoid of originality, but at its best it is a marginally fun, sometimes funny homage to 1980s moviemaking. That '70s Show star Topher Grace moves up a decade to play Matt Franklin, an aimless recent MIT graduate currently coasting at Suncoast Video while his class of '84 peers from Sherman High move on to lucrative careers and materialistic lifestyles. He's a disappointment to his LAPD officer dad (Michael Biehn), who wants him to be an industrial engineer, but Matt simply hasn't figured out what he wants to do yet. When his former high school crush, the big-haired blond bombshell Tori Fredreking (Teresa Palmer), shows up at Suncoast, Matt quickly gets out of his employee vest and not-so-casually approaches her. She's just landed a job as an investment banker, and to impress her, Matt lies and says he works at Goldman Sachs. If you've seen more than five films in your lifetime, you already know this lie will be the crux of the plot.
Will Matt and Tori flirt and hit it off later that night? Absolutely. Will Tori be upset when she discovers the truth? Uh-huh. Will they eventually reconcile and realize their feelings for one another are independent of their employment statuses? You know it. There's not a turn here you won't see coming a mile off, but Take Me Home Tonight is more about the nostalgic journey than the destination.
The film falls squarely in the "one crazy night" comedy subgenre, as Matt and his best friend Barry (Dan Fogler)—a Gordon Gekko-styled Reaganite and recently fired car salesman who wears suspenders and carries a copy of The Art of War in his coat pocket—steal a Mercedes, discover some cocaine in the glove compartment, and crash two parties, pretending to be richer and more successful then they actually are. Barry, prone to Scarface impersonations, goes off on a massive coke binge for much of the film—resulting in a uncomfortable three-way with a middle-aged cougar and a creepy leather-jacketed German—while Matt and Tori awkwardly get to know one another at the annual Labor Day bash thrown by cool guy Kyle Masterson (Chris Pratt), a prep in a pastel polo shirt with a popped collar who just so happens to be dating Matt's literarily-inclined twin sister, Wendy (an underused Anna Faris).
The off-the-hook party is a high school reunion of sorts, so Matt—once a dweeb, always a dweeb—feels out of his element, even though he's now dressed like a Risky Business-era Tom Cruise and has hot girls asking about the red beamer parked out on the street. His anxiety is amplified when he migrates with Tori to a yuppie get-together thrown by her sexually harassing boss (Michael Ian Black), who nearly sees through Matt's Goldman Sachs ruse. (Look out for a wheelchair-bound Demetri Martin as a real Sachs employee who has the power to expose Matt's lie.) Inevitably, Matt does have to come out with the truth, and this leads to a ridiculous climax involving a trip inside a giant metal sphere called "The Ball" and the learning of a few important life lessons, namely, Matt's realization that "I've been so afraid of my life that I've missed my life."
There's something sweet—if unbelievable and sometimes infuriating—about the arc of Matt and Tori's one-night relationship, and this gives the film the approximation of a John Hughes-ish emotional undercurrent. Unfortunately, any genuineness the film musters is undercut by limp dialogue from Jackie and Jeff Filgo—former writers for That '70s Show—and an emphasis on period-accurate props and set design over comedy and character development. Take Me Home Tonight tries ridiculously hard to generate a wistful 1980s atmosphere, and while it gets a lot right— the Madonna posters, the cassette tapes, the hair mousse, the subtle fascination with all-things Japanese—it simply isn't as funny or affecting as it could've been if more attention had been paid to the storytelling. This is a film you'll want to like, but it will probably leave you shrugging your padded shoulders. It's a shame because the soundtrack is killer—the producers licensed a double-CD set's worth of memorable music—and the cast, for the most part, is excellent. Fogler mugs too much and does a sub-Jack Black shtick that gets old fast, but chirpy Topher Grace is perfect in the kind of role that would've once gone to Matthew Broderick or John Cusack. It's not hard to envision him standing against a car in a trench coat, holding a boom box over his head, playing a Peter Gabriel song. Alas, he was born ten years too late to be Lloyd Dobler or a member of the Brat Pack. Instead, he's unfairly known as "that guy who was in that TV show with Ashton Kutcher."
Take Me Home Tonight Blu-ray, Video Quality
A film that takes place in the '80s but was shot digitally would just seem wrong somehow, so it's a pleasure to see that Take Me Home Tonight was shot on 35mm. The film's 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer is very strong, provided you don't get too hung up on the softness inherent in DP Terry Stacey's cinematography. The lensing is never really tack sharp, but I have a feeling this—combined with a grainy film stock—was an intentional choice, made to give the film the look of an authentic 1980s production. Regardless, what matters most is that the image here looks properly and naturally resolved, with no visible edge enhancement and no traces of digital noise reduction. What makes the film really pop is not its sense of clarity, but rather its fantastic use of color, especially in the abundance of bright pastel clothing. Skin tones are warm and consistent, and while hues are rich and dense, there's no garish oversaturation. Since most of the film takes place at night, it's also worth noting that black levels are balanced—deep without crushing shadow detail. I didn't spot any out-of-place digital artifacts, compression quirks, or encode mishaps either. I think the film looks great.
Take Me Home Tonight Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Take Me Home Tonight has been given a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track that has one major thing going for it—the non-stop hit parade that is the film's soundtrack. From "Video Killed the Radio Star" to "Straight Outta Compton," "Bette Davis Eyes" to "Let My Love Open The Door," by the end of the movie you'll be left wondering if there were any top-40 tunes from the '80s that didn't make it into the film. (After watching Take Me Home Tonight I had a keen, almost irrepressible desire to go to karaoke.) The music sounds uniformly excellent. When Men Without Hats' "The Safety Dance" comes on at the party with its big bass line, you'll want to turn your receiver up beyond your normal listening level just to soak in the subwoofer output. Aside from the broad dynamics and rich sound of the music, though, this mix is pretty typical for a comedy. It's primarily focused on dialogue—which, with a few exceptions, is almost always clear and understandable—and there's little usage of the rear channels for effects or ambience. You'll hear some party chatter and some metal-crunching, glass-shattering sounds during the "Ball" sequence, but that's about it. Not that it really matters. This track does what it needs to do—gives us clean dialogue and lots of infectious 1980s songs that'll get stuck in your head for days. The disc includes English SDH, Spanish, and French subtitles.
Take Me Home Tonight Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Take Me Home Tonight Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Think of Take Me Home Tonight as Superbad set in the 1980s and that'll get you halfway to an understanding of what the film is like. It's not a great comedy, and doesn't really need to exist, but I have a feeling if it didn't get shelved for four years—while Hot Tub Time Machine beat it to the punch—it might have done better in theaters. Fox's Blu-ray looks and sounds great, so if you're feeling particularly nostalgic for the Age of Excess, Take Me Home Tonight would make a decent rental.
Take Me Home Tonight: Other Editions
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Take Me Home Tonight Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Take Me Home Tonight Blu-ray (Updated) - May 24, 2011
Fox has announced the Blu-ray release of the retro comedy Take Me Home Tonight for July 19th. The film tells the story of one unforgettable night in 1988 and stars Topher Grace, Anna Faris, Dan Fogler and Teresa Palmer.
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