Take Me Home Tonight is the latest entry in the Retro 80s genre. Films that take a lot of us back to the decade where no one gets in between Brooke Shields and her Calvins and when greed suddenly became fashionably good.
While I had some fun with the picture, Take Me Home Tonight disappoints. While there are enough fun references to take you back, and the music is well selected, I couldn't really get into a lot of the forced comedy set pieces. A lot of which seem a bit out of place and desperate for big laughs rather than genuine moments. If the filmmakers were trying for a Bachelor Party or Moving Violations type feel, they fell a bit short.
The movie works much better when it focuses on our hero Matt's struggle to find himself post-College struggling to find his way in the world. He's now stuck working at Suncoast Video and he's afraid to make the next steps towards a career. Matt soon bumps into his old High School crush, and finds himself pretending to be a much more successful version of himself, which ultimately leads to a night full of misadventure.
Take Me Home Tonight stars Topher Grace of That 70's show, and he does a decent job in a role that might have suited Michael J. Fox back in the day. His crush is played by Teresa Palmer (think a blonde Kristen Stewart), his best friend (and foil for most of the comedy) is Dan Fogler (soon to portray Alfred Hitchcock in Number 13) and his twin sister is played by Anna Faris, in a somewhat wasted role that sadly doesn't mine her sharp comedy skills but rather has her more involved in a subplot regarding her relationship with her boyfriend (Chris Pratt of Parks & Recreation, who relishes the great 80's frat villain role)
Still, the film wasn't all bad. It was a decent time waster (in an entirely empty theater) and it at least reminded me of several fun 80s movie moments and the films that later hearkened back to that decade.
Here are 10 of my favorite Retro 80s films:
I know you don't automatically think 1980s when you remember Boogie Nights, but a large chunk of the film is set between 1980 and 1984. The scene where Mark Wahlberg covers a song from The Transformers Movie ("The Touch")... priceless. Not to mention the 80s headband he wears later in the movie!
Romy And Michele are about to attend their High School Reunion. But to get there, they must deal with their 80s past. And with very funny consequences. The flashbacks to the girls' High School days as well as the music throughout the film are really good eighties fun.
The ultimate 80s summer camp movie... released in 2001. Wet Hot American Summer is hysterical stuff from the guys responsible for MTV's The State and later the director of the hilarious Role Models.
The ultimate 80s horror movie flashback. Ti West's small budget The House Of The Devil is a nice throwback to the more subdued but potent horror films that lined the shelves of Video Stores back in the 80s. To further bring back the nostalgia, the film's DVD distributor even put out a clamshell VHS copy as well!
Adventureland is a fun, endearing trip back to the summer of 1987 with one of the best soundtracks of the lot.
Set in 1988, Donnie Darko captures the darkest moments of the republican dominated 1980s. A lot of us lived through the feeling of impending doom that decade had with the Nuclear arms race, and Donnie Darko brilliantly captures that mood with a style all it's own.
Edge Of Seventeen can probably be called the gay version of a John Hughes movie. It's an edgy, though warmhearted look at first love.
The HBO Movie Hysterical Blindness tells the story of two working class women in 1987 New Jersey who are looking for love. A realistic and well acted film with a great central performance by Uma Thurman.
Starter For 10 is the perfect film for fans of 80s romances and New Wave music. Thinking about the film now makes me want to watch it all over again!
Last year's time traveling trip to the Reagen era is perhaps one of the silliest retro movies ever. Still, despite it's featherweight impact on the world of cinema, Hot Tub Time Machine remains a load of good, goofy 80s fun.
1998's The Wedding singer was probably the film that really kicked the 80s Retro lovin' into the next gear. It's great success helped to pave the way for other '80s set films such as The Adventures Of Sebastian Cole (1998), The Last Days Of Disco (1998), 200 Cigarettes (1999), American Psycho (2000), Me Without You (2001), 24 Hour Party People (2002), Party Monster (2003) and the VH1 Movie Totally Awesome (2006). Also noted is the Drew Barrymore comedy Never Been Kissed from 1999 which had some great flashbacks to the 80s, and really managed to catch the general spirit of teen films from that decade. The same goes for the Jennifer Garner goes "Big" vehicle, 13 Going on 30.
Previous to these films were a couple of movies about High School Reunions: Beautiful Girls from 1996, Grosse Pointe Blank from 1997 and the the aforementioned Romy And Michelle's High School Reunion from 1997... Though that film transcended into full blown 80s Retro if you take into account all of it's scenes that go back to Romy & Michele's adventures in High School circa 1986. There was also a TV Movie sequel (starring Katherine Heigl no less) Romy And Michele: The beginning from 2005 that squarely set it's tale back in the late 80s.
There have also been quite a few more serious films over the years to set their stories back in the 80s... Some of which include: Barcelona (1994), Safe (1995), Fargo (1996), Basquiat (1996), Trainspotting (1996), Gia (1998), 54 (1998), Monster (2003), The Squid And The Whale (2005), The Lives Of Others (2006), The History Boys (2006), We Own The Night (2007), Watchmen (2009) and Let Me In (2010).
Also, a special mention is due for two modern films that really managed to capture the spirit of the 80s in their own special context: Cherish from 2002 and Napoleon Dynamite from 2003.