Matt (Topher Grace) has had a crush on Tori Frederking (Teresa Palmer) since high school but he never had the guts to ask her out. The opportunity presents itself years later when he bumps into her at the video shop he works at. He pretends that he’s a successful banker to impress her but in truth, he’s an engineering graduate who is still figuring things out (thus the video store job). At a party attended by all his high school friends, where he gets the elusive “in” that he has been dreaming of since adolescence, Matt must weigh whether honesty is more important than a shot at winning Tori.
At first glance, a film about a bunch of freshly minted college grads reliving high school in a party thrown by the high school douchebag (played by Chris Pratt) doesn’t seem very interesting. But if TMHT has anything going for it, its high school nerd getting together with the popular girl angle, plus a lot of funky music from the 80s. While attending a raucous throwback to high school party never appealed to me, there is something to be said for wanting to catch up with high school friends and seeing how they’ve been since you last met. I’m not sure that Matt and his best bud Barry (Dan Fogler) had a lot in their teens but it was quite funny to see a lot of cringeworthy awkwardness on screen as they try to appear cool in front of their peers.
I don’t know if it was me learning that Teresa Palmer is Australian that had me detecting a faint accent in her speech in this movie but it wasn’t bothersome. What was bothersome was that the character of Matt, who was supposed to be a smart, charming goofball, didn’t deliver on the goods. For one, for a smart guy, he made a lot of bad choices. His vulnerability in not wanting to take a risk at anything should have made him endearing, but instead, it achieved the opposite. I never once felt a connection with Matt because he was pathetic. It was just sad.
It was a shame that Anna Farris’ comedy was not better utilized in this film. It was nice to see her paired with real life husband Chris Pratt in this movie though. Dan Fogler did his best to salvage the movie with his antics but it was obvious that the main star was Topher Grace and his character was a dud. It was just obviously trying too hard to be a cool 80s throwback movie but with characters who are so much willing to be boxed into stereotypes, it never really clicked for me.
All in all, Take Me Home Tonight felt like a watered down high school movie. The main difference is that its fun when you see teenagers goofing around and doing stupid things but when adults try to relive their glory days in high school, thinking that coolness is the end all and be all of everything, its kind of sad, and kind of shallow, especially when they are at a point in their lives to be celebrating the future, instead of the past.