Who would have thought that a comedy like Take Me Home Tonight had so many problems reaching a mass audience? The film began production in 2007 with the title Young Americans. Sometime after it changed its name to Kids in America and eventually it stuck with Take Me Home Tonight. In addition to several name changes, the film endured several cuts and several distribution companies all because of the cocaine use portrayed in the film by young adults. Universal Studios shelved the film immediately after it wrapped back in 2007 until Relativity Media purchased it for $10 million.
After a very poor run at the box office (opening at number 11 with a mere $3.5 million), due to the lack of general marketing and late cash in on the 1980′s vibe, Take Me Home Tonight has finally made its way to Blu-Ray with a quality video transfer, a rocking audio transfer and a decent sized list of extras.
The film centers on the main character, Matt Franklin (Topher Grace). Matt has graduated college and now works at Sun Coast video. He has no idea what he wants to do with his life and instead of going out and chasing a dream, he simply sits behind the register at a video store hoping for something to happen. Something does manage to happen when his high school dream girl, Tori Frederking (Teresa Palmer) comes walking into the video store. One thing leads to another and Matt ends up lying about his job and making plans for a party, which will hopefully result in the best night of his life.
From that point the film cruises at a very steady pace due to the general free flow of the film and the excellent characters. Dan Fogler plays Matt’s best friend, Barry Nathan. Barry is a wild card who went right into the workplace after high school and never had time to let loose and party like most college students. Fogler really is a lot of fun as Barry. It’s sad that almost every movie he manages to be in either ends up on the shelf for long periods of time or gets some sort of limited release, which results in everyone looking right over him. Fogler is a great actor and perfect in this role as the crazy, but fun best friend.
Playing Matt’s twin sister Wendy is Anna Faris. She usually comes off as the annoying dumb ass in most films, but she really manages to deliver in Take Me Home Tonight. While her performance is a lot more mature than her usual self, she still manages to bring a decent amount of jokes to the film. The way Matt and Wendy finish each other’s sentences and share that brother sister bond feels very authentic and generally helps make the characters of the film more relatable and realistic.
Playing Tori Frederking, the love interest of the film, is Australian actress Teresa Palmer. Palmer was recently seen in I Am Number Four as the tough girl alien, which is quite the opposite of her role in Take Me Home Tonight. She plays that girl that you were always afraid to ask out in high school, but always dreamed about and her performance is honestly really good. She too has excellent chemistry with Topher Grace and the way the relationship between the two of them unfolds throughout the film feels very real and very John Hughes-esque, which was one of the bigger inspirations for the film. You can tell that all of the characters are more down to earth and likable compared to your normal teen comedies. None of the leads are complete idiots and they really seem mostly competent.
As mentioned earlier, the story of Take Me Home Tonight is your basic coming of age, big party night. The cast all gets ready for the big night and it all unfolds with crazy mischief, from doing Cocaine to stealing a car, the events are wild but still grounded. The way the film portrays all of these said events is what really makes it effective. It never feels too silly or too unbelievable for the 80′s. Most people can recall a crazy party where stuff happened that no one believes and this is essentially that night.
Take Me Home Tonight features a classic soundtrack full of great 80′s tunes. What was more important about the soundtrack was the way it was infused into the film. It never tried to play it off as a funny gag or a “hey, they’re playing this song, which means this movie takes place in the 80′s”. It more or less helps add a background to the film. The 80′s are simply a setting for a coming of age story that is universal for everyone. You can point out certain things that were big in the 80′s, but it never gets to the point of constantly dropping in pop culture references like Hot Tub Time Machine, which is refreshing.
Clearly Take Me Home Tonight was influenced by tons of coming of age stories that took place in the past. American Graffiti and Dazed and Confused are the two biggest comparisons and while those are instant classics, Take Me Home Tonight isn’t there just yet. It succeeds in having a solid cast of young actors, having a setting that takes place in the past without mocking it and most of all, it succeeds in telling a universal story of not knowing what you want to do with your life. Take Me Home Tonight is homage that still manages to bring its own agenda to the table. It walks the fine line of being its own film while paying respect to past films very well.
Take Me Home Tonight is a very fun film because of the basic story on the surface that manages to pack a punch due to its excellent leads. Topher Grace is really the shining star and he has proved yet again that he can lead a comedy without any problems. The jokes are funny; the music is great and most importantly the films heart is in the right place. You can tell that the filmmakers had the best intentions while making this film. A lot of hard work and dedication was put into this film by Topher Grace, who was also a producer on the film. While the story never reaches John Hughes levels, it certainly tries and it works for the most part. It’s not your perfect film by any means, but it’s a lot better than the trailers make it out to be.
Take Me Home Tonight sports a very pleasing 1080p video transfer. The image for the most part is clear, with most textures on clothes given detail and facial features are given definition. There is a fine layer of grain that is apparent over the film and it makes for a more realistic look, opposed to the crystal clear waxy look that some current films are sporting. Since this takes place in the 80′s, the film shines with tons of bright and vivid colors like pink, yellow and purple. Skin tones are very natural and black levels are deep.
Fox has provided Take Me Home Tonight with a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track that takes full advantage of all speakers. Since this film spends most of its running time at a party, the speakers are always active with great tunes and background sounds. The front channels are dedicated mostly to dialogue and music, while the back channels are used for the background party effects like people chatting and making noises. While this track isn’t groundbreaking or demo material, it is however very true to the film. Every bit of detail is heard, from the walking steps on pavement to a car coming to a stop after spinning uncontrollably down a hill.
Take Me Home Tonight comes packaged with a decent amount of special features, all presented in HD. Here is a complete list below.
- 7 Deleted Scenes - These scenes for the most part are actually quite good. They add a few more subtle jokes and generally work really nice, but don’t add much to the story. It was wise to have cut them, but I do think fans of the film will enjoy them.
- Cast Get Together - A short video of the cast speaking generally about the film and the experiences they had while filming. It really shows how close everyone was and the movie definitely benefits from it.
- Music Boombox - This is actually a really lame feature that could have been better, considering the great music involved. It allows you to select a song, view a bio on the song and then play the scene it was used it. So this feature is really just a scene selection tool, with a jazzed up selection page that labels each song on a “tape”. I was really hoping you could just shuffle through and listen to the songs, but that isn’t the case.
- Take Me Home Tonight Music Video - This music video is a cover of the song “Don’t You Want Me” by Atomic Tom. The cover itself is kind of lame, but the video is great. It features the main cast in a nightclub reenacting scenes from classic movies like Ghostbusters, The Breakfast Club and even The Terminator, which was the best one!
- Theatrical Trailer & TV Spots
- Digital Copy
Overall, Take Me Home Tonight is a great film that benefits from its leads. While it may not bring a fresh or innovative take to the coming of age story, it still manages to be enjoyable because of the cast involved and how the events take place. It’s a funny film that never tries to be anything it’s not.
Fox has provided us with very true to source video and audio transfer. They’re near perfect transfers that replicate the experience, but they won’t be winning any awards for clearest sound or clearest picture.
Finally, closing out the disc is a decent spread of special features, all presented in high definition. Again, the features are alright for fans of the movie or someone looking to spend a little extra time with it but they aren’t as extensive or detailed as other films.
If you’re looking for a great comedy that doesn’t insult the viewer with a constant stream of stupid jokes, but instead gives you some genuine laughs with really relatable characters, then you owe it to yourself to check out Take Me Home Tonight.
Movie Score: 4/5
Video Score: 4/5
Audio Score: 4/5
Special Features Score: 2.5/5
Overall Score: 3.5/5
Take Me Home Tonight was released on Blu-Ray on July 19th, 2011.