Take Me Home Tonight is one of the two newest films on this list. This list was created in late-2011 and this was one of two films from that year that made the cut. The second film will be revealed at the late date, but why Take Me Home Tonight.
From the second I heard about this movie, I was excited to see it. I’ve always loved Topher Grace, despite how people people felt about his miscast role in Spiderman 3 he still gave the best performance he could have. Then you factor in that it takes place during the 80’s which was the best decade for music, so I knew I’d at least enjoy the soundtrack.
I ended enjoying so much more than just that however. Take Me Home Tonight does something very special. It take’s place in the 80’s; but the story doesn’t have to. Unlike a film like Wedding Singer (which I admittedly love) the film never makes jokes about the 80’s. Take Me Home Tonight is a John Hughes film during his prime in the 80s, shot in 2011.
The film follows Matt Franklin (Grace), an MIT graduate who is working at the Suncoast Pictures at the local mall. His high school crush Tori Frederking (Teresa Palmer) has returned home from a summer abroad and Matt sees this as his golden opportunity. He lies to Tori about his job and gets invited to a giant Labor Day party hosted by Kyle Masterson (Chris Pratt), his sister Wendy’s (Anna Faris) long term boyfriend.
Meanwhile, his best friend Barry (Dan Fogler) has just gotten fired from his job at a car lot and is drinking his sorrows away. Barry convinces Matt to go the car lot and steal a convertible so they can arrive at the party in style. As they arrive to the party Matt finds a bag of cocaine inside the car. Matt doesn’t take it, but Barry becomes quickly addicted.
Outside Kyle’s house is a giant steel sphere referred to as “The Ball”. Every year they challenge people to ride down the hill inside it, but people have constantly chicken out. While at the party Kyle proposes to Wendy and she accepts much to Matt’s displeasure. Tori invites Matt and Barry to attend her a second business party in Beverly Hills. After Tori admits to Matt how much she hates her job, he convinces her to leave the party and sneak into the neighbors backyard.
It’s in the neighbors party that Tori and Matt have sex. Feeling guilty about not being honest with Tori from the start, he confesses his real job to her. She angrily leaves feeling hurt and used. Matt drives Barry back to Kyle’s party while he decides his life has reached an all time low and he’s willing to try the cocaine. Before he can he crashes the car. His father (who’s a police officer) find Barry and him and the cocaine and stolen car. After threatening to throw them in jail, he let’s them go free.
Matt tries to explain to Tori that the only thing he lied about was his job and nothing else. Tori explains that his lack of self respect and his need to lie proves that he’s just as scared as everyone else in town. To disprove her, Matt decides to take a risk and ride the Ball. Wendy begs Kyle not to push the ball down the hill but he refuses. The ball goes wildly out of control as it rolls down the hill.
Barry runs after the ball to insure that Matt has ended safely. The two friends walk back up the hill to Kyle’s house. Wendy breaks off her engagement, Matt asks Tori for her phone number and Barry makes out with a random goth girl. The three leave the party to get breakfast as the sun comes up all having grown from the people they were 12 hours earlier.
There are so many things that Take Me Home Tonight could have been and thankfully it does everything right. It treats the subject matter with absolutely sincerity. The film could have been released in 1987 without a single change in dialogue. Each actor does a great job with the material and the film is undeniably hilarious.
Take Me Home Tonight isn’t the best film from 2011, it might not even make the top 10 of the year, but it struck a chord for me. Based on it’s 28% on rottentomatoes.com I maybe the only person who connected to this movie on such a deep level.
Matt’s relationship with his father is specifically hit me. In an extremely dramatic dialogue exchange Matt yells at his father ‘I’m sorry I’m a failure’, to which his father replies ‘Don’t give himself so much credit, you have to do something to be a failure.’ The scene expands into a speech about how it doesn’t matter if you fail as long as you do something. It was watching Take Me Home Tonight that helped confirm my desire to move to LA. Admittedly it was a decision that I didn’t exactly love, but at least I did it instead of wondering for the rest of my life.
The films focus on dreams, love, relationships, friendships and family are all so touching. The film is a traditional 80’s film done in the 21st Century, which almost completely makes it non-traditional. It was the first film in 2011 that stuck in my memory after watching so I will always have a place in my heart (although I suppose it’s still a little early to say that).
Matt Kelly can also be found hosting The Saint Mort Show, Co-hosting the Reddit Horror Club Podcast, Writing for Geekscape,Tweeting and running Dollar Monday Promotions.