** (out of four)
Like so many brainy high school wallflowers before him, Matt (Topher Grace) never had the courage to ask out his dream girl Tori (Teresa Palmer, who played the same role in “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice”). A few years later in 1988, with nothing to show for himself but an MIT degree and a job at Suncoast Video, Matt has one shot at one big party—featuring every single person from his graduating class, of course—to finally get Tori’s number.
The buzz: Following last year’s “Hot Tub Time Machine,” March is now officially “’80s Nostalgia Movie Month.” Nice to see Anna Faris as Matt’s brainy twin sister; not nice to see Dan Fogler (“Fanboys,” “Balls of Fury”), who’s like a Cinematic Momentum Eraser, as Matt’s best friend Barry. That guy’s agent must be a master of persuasion.
The verdict: Grace (who co-conceived the story) is a great everyman. Yet even though the film was made in 2007, the now-32-year-old really can’t pass for 23. “Take Me Home Tonight” also can’t decide how these people got to where they are in their lives, and where that is exactly. It just sands over the details with John Hughes movie clichés that do nothing to revitalize or subvert long-exhausted archetypes about dorks, “unobtainable girls” and taking chances. (One exception: Trying to be cool at the party, Matt wears sunglasses inside. A distant voice cries out: “Nice shades, ass****.”) The movie aspires to the aimless, dweeby cool of “Adventureland” but comes closer to the obnoxious, kinda-raunchy-but-not-funny naivete of “Can’t Hardly Wait.”
Did you know? After Barry steals a Mercedes and he and Matt drive off “Ferris Bueller”-style, the two delight in rapping NWA’s “Straight Outta Compton.” Now that’s something the Cameron Fryes and Lloyd Doblers of the world never did.
Watch Matt on “You & Me This Morning,” Fridays at 7 a.m. on WCIU, the U