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Featured Blu-ray / DVD Review: Take Me Home Tonight

July 17th, 2011

Take Me Home Tonight - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray

Take Me Home Tonight was made in 2007 and took several years to finally get a theatrical release. Many reasons have been given to explain why this happened, including the drug use shown in the movie that would result in an R-rating, 1980s nostalgia that might be a tough sell to today's audiences, and poor test screenings. Regardless why it was delayed, that seemed like a wise choice given its performance at the box office. But is the film really as bad as its poor ticket sales would imply?

The Movie

The film stars Topher Grace, who also co-wrote the story and acted as one of the executive producers. He plays Matt Franklin, a recent MIT graduate who is still trying to figure out the next part of becoming an adult and in the meantime is working at a video store. Although when we meet him, he is less concerned about a possible career than he is with a possible reunion with Tori Frederking, the woman he had a crush on throughout high school. As he explains to his best friend, Barry, and his twin sister, Wendy, with her return to town, he finally has a shot. He just has to plan their meeting so he will have the right opportunity to ask her out.

That plan goes out the window when she walks into the video store where he works and he has to improvise telling her he works for Goldman Sachs. It seems to work and they both make plans to go to Kyle Masterson's Labor Day party. Not only is this be biggest party of the year, Kyle Masterson is Wendy's fiancee. Matt doesn't want to show up in his sister's car, but Barry will break into the car dealership where he used to work (he was fired that day) and they will steal a Mercedes Benz.

The rest of the film is essentially an extended party scene with Matt running into old classmates, most of whom he would rather not talk to, while trying to get close to Tori to get her phone number. There are a couple other side stories as well. Wendy is trying to decide between possibly continuing her education at Cambridge and being with her fiancee. Also, there's the drug-fueled exploits of Barry at the party. (The car he and Matt stole had some cocaine hidden in the glove compartment.) But it's Matt and Tori's story that's the main plot thread we follow.

When trying to come up with a way to describe the quality of the movie, I think it is easiest to reference the special features on the DVD / Blu-ray. There are only four extras, two of which deal with the music. The music is certainly an important part of this film. Granted, this is a party movie and parties tend to have a lot of music. Also, it is a nostalgia movie, and few things will take a person back to a certain time frame as effectively as the right song. So I'm not surprised the music plays such an important part in the film. However, if the movie did a better job of standing out, the music wouldn't be the most important part of the film. Hell, if the movie did a better job of making the 1980s an integral part of the story, it would have been a step in the right direction. Outside of the music and the fashion, there's little here that requires the film to be set in 1988 and that's a bit of a problem. If you like the music, then this is a selling point, but it still feels like a shallow reason to enjoy the movie. Buying a Best of the 80s CD would make more sense.

I'm not saying the movie is bad and there are some elements that work. Anna Faris is great and her character's arc is the emotional heart of the film. Dan Folgers certainly has the energy to pull off a character like Barry. Plus Topher Grace and Teresa Palmer do have good chemistry together. But that still adds up to a movie that's no more than average.

The Extras

As I already mentioned, there are just four extras on the DVD, starting with 11 minutes of deleted scenes. Next up is an 8-minute interview featurette with the cast talking about the movie, in-between behind-the-scenes footage. Music Boombox has information on 12 of the songs featured in the movie, as well as clips from the movie. Finally, there's a music video for "Don’t You Want Me" that has the four main cast members recreating a bunch of classic scenes from 1980s movies.

There are no exclusives on the Blu-ray, but it does come with a digital copy of the movie. Additionally, the film is not exactly the best example of the Blu-ray format I've seen. The details are good, but not great. The colors, contrast, black level, etc. are all fine, but nothing makes it really stand out. The surround sound speakers get a workout, but mostly with the soundtrack and crowd noise at the parties, but that's the extent of the sound design.

Moving onto the price, the Blu-ray costs $23, or 35% more than the DVD, which is a bit much given the lack of exclusives and the only average technical presentation.

The Verdict

Take Me Home Tonight is better than its Tomatometer Score and it's certainly better than its box office performance. However, it is still just an average movie. It's worth checking out, but the overall value of the DVD and the Blu-ray is limited to just a rental.

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Filed under: Video Review, Take Me Home Tonight