Take Me Home Tonight is three-and-a-half stars of “it is what it is.” As an amalgamation of the coming-of-age story and the romcom, it hits all the marks and generic cliches you expect it to. But this is precisely why it works within its own limited means: It does what you want exactly how you want it, and pleasantly enough not to annoy you.
To enjoy this movie, however, does take some leaps of faith, mostly that 32-year-old Topher Grace is a mid-20s college grad, or that he and Anna Faris—who play twins—could have ever exited the same womb. There’s also the question of whether or not anyone still cares—at least five years after its heyday—about ‘80s nostalgia. If you can swallow those pills, the movie is perfectly fine, if never overwhelming.
The plot is one you’ve seen a million times in some form or another. Here, Grace plays Matt, a talented MIT grad who doesn’t know what to do with his life, instead finding himself wasting away in a dead-end job at a Suncoast video while living with his parents. After a chance encounter with his high-school crush Tori (Teresa Palmer, I Am Number Four)—and a bit of lying about his actual profession—Matt, with the help of his best friend Barry (a thankfully understated Dan Fogler, Taking Woodstock) and twin sis (Faris, who’s often the best thing in the movie), finds himself trying to woo Tori at a party.
We know where this is going, from the hijinks to the eventual romantic complications between Matt and Tori. The only thing the film does differently than the usual suspects is its ‘80s setting, something that feels completely superfluous within the confines of the film—more like a marketing ploy than a genuine necessity. This differs from a movie like Greg Mottola’s Adventureland (2009), which was also set in the ‘80s, but was an aspect vital to the film due to the semi-autobiographical nature. At the same time, that film was inherently more relatable simply due to its blue collar trappings as opposed to Take Me Home Tonight‘s take on the Me Generation.
But what makes the film watchable is the fact that Take Me Home Tonight rarely goes for the cheap laugh, instead building itself around characters. Sure, there are a few sex gags and a really silly climax, but the jokes are generally built more around the interaction between characters, while film’s main purpose is to make you enjoy and root for these people, no matter how unoriginal they may be under examination. None of this means that Take Me Home Tonight is going to set the world on fire, but compared to the rest of the early-year dreck out there, there are certainly worse ways to spend a couple of hours. Rated R for language, sexual content and drug use.