Coming-of-age film, “Take Me Home Tonight,” goes – in the dumper, right from the get-go. And it won’t be in theaters long, judging from the near-empty theater on a recent Sunday afternoon screening. It’s the ‘80s. Math wiz Matt Franklin (Topher Grace) is wasting his life and MIT diploma, working in a video store, wallowing in an indecisive funk, reminiscent of “The Graduate.” There, the similarity ends with that clarion-call-to-youth classic.
Directed and co-written by Michael Dowse, “Take Me Home” wants to be a wild party film, with Matt and his nutty friend, Barry (Dan Fogler), stealing a $59,000 car from a dealership and searching through a teen blow-out bash in LA for dreamgirl Tori (Teresa Palmer). Amidst all the drug-orgy stuff, a sweet underside surfaces in the form of genuine love between Matt and Tori. Like many Hollywood romantic comedies, the budding relationship is based on a lie, which comes back to bite the leading man in the buttocks …. case in point, the current Adam Sandler-Jennifer Aniston vehicle, “Just Go With It.”
The plot keeps meandering between sicko-sex and lovesick sentiment. As Matt pines for lines to impress Tori, raunchy heights are reached when cokedup Barry is seduced into a threesome with a cougar and an aging voyeur. Barry’s embarrassment spills out into the audience when the scene turns decidedly unfunny.
“Housebunny” actress Anna Faris is on hand as Matt’s twin sister, Wendy, supplying sad moments, after she agrees to marriage with boorish rich-boy party host Kyle (Chris Pratt) and then tries to backtrack out of it. Any humor comes to a dead stop when Matt is almost killed doing a stupid stunt, jerkier than those in the “Jackass” movies. This is after he and his buddy are busted by Matt’s beleaguered father (Michael Connell Biehn), who happens to be a cop.
“Take Me Home Tonight” is an unredeemable dud, sometimes saved by a few decent songs on the soundtrack, none of which is the Eddie Money hit, “Take Me Home Tonight.” Money must know where the money isn’t.