Though predictable, 'Take Me Home Tonight' boasts rad humor

(Left to right.) TOPHER GRACE, DAN FOGLER and ANNA FARIS star in 'TAKE ME HOME TONIGHT.'

Photo by Photo Credit: Ron Batzdorff / SMPSP.

(Left to right.) TOPHER GRACE, DAN FOGLER and ANNA FARIS star in "TAKE ME HOME TONIGHT."

Recent MIT grad Matt Franklin should be working for a Fortune 500 company and starting his upward climb to full-fledged yuppie-hood. Instead, the directionless 23-year-old ...

Rating: R for language, sexual content and drug use

Length: 114 minutes

Released: March 4, 2011 Nationwide

Cast: Topher Grace, Anna Faris, Dan Fogler, Teresa Palmer, Chris Pratt

Director: Michael Dowse

Writer: Jackie Filgo, Jeff Filgo, Topher Grace, Gordon Kaywin

More info and showtimes »

To know the '80s is to love them, or so the makers of "Take Me Home Tonight" would have us believe.

It was the decade that brought us MTV, Reaganomics, leg-warmer chic and big hair. British new wave rubbed shoulders with disco, punk, rap and hair bands. Cocaine was king, and greed was good.

"Take Me Home Tonight" uses all of that as a backdrop for a story that could fit into nearly any decade from the past 50 years, and one that borrows its angst from a number of movies from that same time period. It's simple: You've graduated from college. What are you going to do with your life?

Matt Franklin (Topher Grace) is dodging the issue with all the might his indecision can muster. He has come home to Los Angeles with a sheepskin from MIT, but instead of going out and putting his degree to good use, he's working as a clerk in a mall video store. His cop dad (Michael Biehn) is not amused.

Matt's problem comes to a head the day that Tori Frederking (Teresa Palmer) walks into his store. Matt had a major crush on Tori in high school but never had the nerve to ask her out. He doesn't want her to think he's a loser, so he lies and tells her he's in the same line she is, investment banking.

Meanwhile, Matt's twin sister, Wendy (Anna Faris), is also trying to make a decision. She can either head off to a prestigious graduate school or stick around and share a life with her dimwitted boyfriend, Kyle Masterson (Chris Pratt).

Matt usually avoids Kyle and his traditional rowdy Labor Day party, but since Tori will be there, Matt decides to attend. He sets off with Wendy and his best friend, Barry Nathan (Dan Fogler), who is feeling frustrated by his decision to forgo college and dive straight into the working world.

The party scene unfolds predictably, with connections, breakups, romantic quandaries and a dance-off. There's even a second, more outrageous gathering that emphasizes the moral bankruptcy of the decade. The '80s soundtrack is a mix of the obvious hits and novelties ("Bette Davis Eyes," "Video Killed the Radio Star," "Safety Dance") and some of the decade's better numbers ("Let My Love Open the Door," "Ship of Fools").

The script, conceived by Grace and Gordon Kaywin and penned by "That '70s Show" writers Jackie Filgo and Jeff Filgo, swings between big laughs and filler. Appearances by the likes of Demetri Martin, Michael Ian Black, Michelle Trachtenberg, Angie Everhart and Seth Gabel lead to moments that range from hilarious to bizarre.

Grace is likable enough to carry the movie, but you can't help wishing the talented Faris had more to do. Fogler ("Balls of Fury") often feels reined in but shines when he explodes.

Director Michael Dowse tries for a balance between humor and meaning. The humor is more successful, but at least "Take Me Home Tonight" isn't a totally mindless comedy.

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