Take Me Home Tonight is a 10-years-too-late comedy. It’s ’80s nostalgia vamped up by people who were too young to have lived through the actual ’80s, but entirely too old to be playing college kids nostalgic for their ’80s high school glory days. That makes it Hot Tub Time Machine without the time machine or the hot tub — or the fun that entailed.
Topher Grace, now a well-preserved 32, plays Matt, the recent M.I.T. grad working for Suncoast Video while he tries to decide what to do with his life. Anna Faris, now 34, is Wendy, Matt’s twin sister, equally directionless also working at Suncoast. And Dan Fogler, now 34, is Barry, Matt’s burly, boozy loose cannon pal, who skipped college and regrets that he did.
Their story comes straight out of the ’90s — the Can’t Hardly Wait tale of a guy-who-never-confessed-to-his-high-school-crush. Teresa Palmer plays Tori, the object of Matt’s crush. At 24, she’s at least the right age to be playing somebody just starting her career and her life. Through one wild, long night Matt, Barry, Wendy and Tori experience multiple parties, freaky L.A. party sex, cocaine, grand theft auto and a great, deadly dare. And each, in his own way, has a moment of truth.
Texture is what we look for in our nostalgia pieces and ’80s nostalgia, which was briefly a big deal in the ’90s, is all about skinny ties, moussed hair, Duran Duran and Safety Dance — all delivered in copious quantities here. With a little cocaine on the side.
Life lessons are doled out as well. Matt, who is driving his cop dad (Michael Biehn) and his sister nuts with his indecision, must decide to “go for it.” Barry must figure out that he’s on a dead end street and find purpose. Wendy needs to open that envelope from grad school and decide what to do with the boyfriend who just proposed to her at his big Labor Day party.
And Tori? She’s got to decide if this guy with his sports jacket sleeves rolled up is just a poseur, claiming to work at Goldman Sachs, or somebody she should never have ignored in high school.
Grace, who came up with the story idea for this much-delayed comedy, has some nice scenes pretending to be a currency trader. There’s a good father-son moment, too. Unfortunately, Grace didn’t get this up and running right after That ’70s Show ended. Even taking into account how long the movie sat on the shelf, hampered by a ratings controversy, he and those he surrounded himself with are a bit too long in the tooth to make this work.
The lesson of these movies are all the same: that you can go back, you can make sure that you don’t live the rest of your life bitter that you didn’t “go for it.” But you can’t go back, no matter how many Hollywood agents say, “You could still pass for 22, sure!”
Cast: Topher Grace, Anna Faris, Teresa Palmer, Dan Fogler.
Director: Michael Dowse.
Screenwriters: Jackie Filgo, Jeff Filgo, Topher Grace, Gordon Kaywin.
Producers: Sarah Bowen, Topher Grace, Gordon Kaywin, James Whitaker, Dany Wolf.
A Relativity Media release. Running time: 97 minutes. Language, sexual content and drug use. Opens Friday March 4 at area theaters.