Take Me Home Tonight

The 80s for Kids Who Were Born in Them


Starring: Topher Grace, Teresa Palmer

Review by Robert Patrick

The 1980s have become less of a decade and more of a marketing device in the last ten years. Being that I was born in the 80s myself, I was accustomed to people of my age, each one shining with glee, when they would purchase a wristband that said, in some blocky font, “Made in the 80s”. VH1 was using the decade as if it were a money clip to fold their cash in. “I Love the 80s” was the flagship of this goofy romanticism, and then, later on, Trivial Pursuit got into the mix and started rewiring people’s minds with Reagan-era questions. The whole era has become a caricature of itself. Teens that were graduating in 2003 were idolizing Molly Ringwald. People of my generation are hooked up to that decade as if it were an IV. And now, in 2011, here comes a movie that is about the 80s, made for people that never lived in the 80s, and performed by actors who were born in the 80s.

As a critic I am supposed to be unbiased. This is the sheath that all valiant swords are intended to be kept in. The problem is that a movie, with the same title as a hit song from the era, is more of a commercial than a film. Speaking of music, the entire film is full of hit music from the time period. Instead of writing sentient dialogue, Topher Grace and director Michael Dowse expect the music to fill in the gaps where the writing couldn’t. Each time a song comes on, it says exactly what is happening in the scene, so that the actors don’t have to play it out to their abilities. This is bad and manipulative. And worst of all it doesn’t work.

The leads of “Take Me Home Tonight” is Topher Grace and Teresa Palmer. Grace is playing the hapless loser and Palmer is playing the obligatory hot girl who is outside of the hapless loser’s jurisdiction. Now that we have the formulaic plot down, we can fill it in with 80s references and lots of Duran Duran. Why do we need this movie to exist when we have similar films, with better acting and writing, from the actual era? I’ll tell you why: so that people from my generation will pay money and experience a fake version of what they will never live through. This diagnosis may sound cruel, but it’s nonetheless accurate. I’m sure people from the 1980s, who actually lived through the era, don’t want to watch their teenage years become marketed like a Coca-Cola commercial.

The movie also showcases the alleged comedic talents of Dan Fogler. This guy looks like Oliver Platt, yells like Sam Kinison, and sounds like Curtis Armstrong – only without the talent of the aforementioned entertainers. He also, in one particular scene, channels Ron Burgundy – enunciation and all. Is this funny behavior? No. Fogler is like a poor man’s version of every good joke from every good comedian. I don’t want things that I enjoy pureed into a sick, pulpy imitation product. Thanks for the thought.

“Take Me Home Tonight” is not a good movie because it doesn’t believe in itself; it believes in things that came before its own inception. To throw a good party you cant wait until an excellent one is over, wait until everyone is gone, and then steal their party favors and call them your own. This movie doesn’t have a soul, it has a dollar sign. I suppose there is a point to this movie, but it’s not one that I’m willing to be pushed off of.

On a side note: I’m only giving this film higher than a one because Demetri Martin had two funny scenes. Take that for what you will.


Author: Rob Patrick

The program director of the Olympia Film Society, Rob is also a former San Diego Film Critics Society member. He has written for The East County Californian, The Alpine Sun, The East County Herald, The San Diego Entertainer, and the San Diego Reader. When he isn't curating a film festival, he is drinking rosé out of a plastic cup in Seattle or getting tattoos from Jenn Champion.

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