“Take Me Home Tonight” by Eddie Money and Ronnie Spector is quite easily one of the best songs of the 80s. Use that song as the title of a movie set in that era, and you’ve got yourself a built-in audience. Fail to actually include that song in the movie and you’ve got some bewildered and disgruntled Generation Xers.
Borrowing heavily from the youthful comedies of the 80s, Take Me Home Tonight is a playful romp set to an otherwise fantastic soundtrack. Topher Grace stars as Matt Franklin, a young man adrift after graduating from MIT. Now working at Suncoast video, Matt finds himself falling behind friends and classmates who are moving forward with careers in their chosen fields and generally beginning lives as adults. Still living at home with his twin sister, Wendy (Ana Faris), Matt can’t help feeling a bit left out. Even Wendy has a serious boyfriend and a shot at grad school, but Matt seems, well, stuck.
After a chance run-in with Tori Frederking (Teresa Palmer) at Suncoast, Matt is hell-bent on attending Kyle Masterson’s notoriously raucous end-of-summer party. Tori will be there, and maybe, just maybe, he’ll be able to win her heart. It seems like he might actually have a shot, as long as his best friend Barry (Dan Fogler) makes it through the night without having a nervous break down and Matt can somehow maintain the ruse that he works for Goldman Sachs.
What follows is a classic party movie that finds Barry stealing a car from the dealership where he was just fired, stumbling upon cocaine in the glove box, and basically going insane for the night. He even winds up in an unsettling sexual encounter with a hot redhead (Angie Everhart) and her creepy friend Francis, who likes to watch. Wendy’s boyfriend proposes, but deep down she’s torn between settling down and pursuing her dreams, and Matt, momentarily oblivious to the chaos around him, discovers that the girl of his dreams might not be out of reach after all.
As we all know, lies and love never mix, so naturally Tori is furious when she learns that Matt fibbed about his job and is no more than a clerk at the mall. Will he be able to convince her that his feelings are true before the night is over? Though based in silliness and youthful hi jinx, Take Me Home Tonight does an excellent job of capturing that moment of uncertainty so many of us experience after college. You know you’re supposed to be keeping pace with your peers, but the path forward isn’t as obvious as it used to be. Sometimes it takes a night of total abandon to make you realize that the only way to move ahead is to cast aside your fears and put one foot in front of the other. Though not on the level with Ferris Bueller’s Day Off or Sixteen Candles, this lightweight comedy is still a nostalgic delight.