Take Me Home Tonight (Blu-ray + Digital Copy)
Directed by Michael Dowse
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 1080p AVC codec
Running Time: 97 minutes
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English
Subtitles: SDH, French, Spanish
MSRP: $ 39.99
Release Date: July 19, 2011
Review Date: July 19, 2011
Michael Dowse’s Take Me Home Tonight splits itself straight down the middle between a raunchy frat boy farce and a rather touching romantic comedy. The frat boy stuff is loud, vulgar, and completely predictable; the romantic comedy material is surprisingly delicate and sensitively handled (at least until a conventional break up sequence ruins the spell the film has cast). Well cast and competently directed, Take Me Home Tonight could have been a lot worse, but it also could have made so much more out of the parts of it that are inarguably first-rate.
MIT graduate Matt Franklin (Topher Grace) is currently spinning his wheels in a dead end job in a video store while trying to find what he wants to do with his life. One facet from his past that continues to haunt him to this day is his failure to connect with his high school dream girl Tori Frederking (Teresa Palmer) who’s now a cum laude college graduate with a killer job in a top investment firm in Los Angeles. When she comes strolling into the video store, Matt quickly ditches his name tag and pretends to be running into her by accident, making an offhanded date to meet up at his twin sister’s (Anna Faris) boy friend’s (Chris Pratt) annual Labor Day party. With his demonstrative, anything-goes best friend Barry (Dan Fogler) fired that day from his car salesman job, the two guys are fast and loose at the party where Matt finally gets his chance to charm Tori while Barry, with a stolen car from his former boss’ lot and a glove compartment full of cocaine, proceeds to get as down and dirty as he can. The evening holds many surprises for the both of them.
The script by director Dowse and Jackie Filgo and Jeff Filgo (based on a story by star Topher Grace and Gordon Kaywin) is oh-so-right with all of the stumbling and bumbling Matt endures in trying to make a good impression on Tori. He’s appealing in his earnestness and charming in his awkward handling of the initial intimate scenes until the ice thaws between them and a real attraction begins to blossom between the two. With two engaging performers and gentle, genuinely fun and honest banter between them, it’s easy for an audience to pull for these two people to make a connection. The spell, of course, is continually broken when director Dowse jumps back to Barry’s escapades which involve his initial exploits with the coke, a dance-off involving some kicks to the groin, and a sexcapade with a statuesque older woman while the cougar’s leather-clad husband watches nearby and eventually wants to get closer to the action. Even with these gauche and tasteless scenes, every return to Matt and Tori reestablishes the film’s real merit, undone only when lies are uncovered and in a moment of tiresome emotional pique, the spell is dashed into pieces. Of course, the breach isn’t permanent, but much of the film’s final quarter hour doesn’t ring true going for a feel good ending instead of something a bit more fresh and real.
As he’s done on television and in Win a Date with Tad Hamilton, Topher Grace has a natural easy-going charm that is never ostentatious or overpowering making him the perfect everyman for playing this young guy at a personal and professional crossroads who doesn’t have a clue which way to turn. He and Teresa Palmer also exhibit palpable chemistry especially in a game of Truth or Dare on a trampoline, likely the film’s best sequence. She’s playing a familiar movie character: the knockout who’s underneath as scared and disenchanted as everyone else, but she does it with style and sincerity. Anna Faris makes a completely believable twin for Topher Grace, and the subplot with her on-and-off engagement to lummox Kyle Masterson (played with bravura by Chris Pratt) is a welcome respite to Dan Folger’s obvious, obnoxious clowning. Fogler’s a Tony-winning stage actor with an expressive face and a limber body despite his size, but his strident, shrill performance is pushing so hard for effects that it ruins them before an audience can savor what he’s doing. Most welcome among the cast is Michael Biehn playing Matt’s concerned policeman father who wants his son to find some use for that expensive MIT education he’s paid for. Some later scenes between Biehn and Grace rank high among the movie’s strong points.
The film has been framed at its theatrical aspect ratio of 2.40:1 and is presented in 1080p using the AVC codec. Sharpness and color saturation are all one could ask, and flesh tones, while a tiny bit on the brown side, are generally fine. Black levels are good but don’t quite reach their optimum blackness quotients. Shadow details (much of the film occurs during the late night and early morning hours) are very well rendered. The film has been divided into 23 chapters.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix is, like many movie comedies, more front directed with little attention paid to the rear channels. The rich selection of 80s music does get sent to the rears to give the mix a sense of surround envelopment, but ambient party sounds could have been much more integrated into the final mix for a more involving experience. Dialogue is well recorded and resides in the center channel.
There are seven deleted scenes which may be viewed individually or in one 11-minute grouping. They’re in 1080p.
A cast get together (seemingly to shoot the music video for the disc) finds Topher Grace, Dan Fogler, Anna Faris, Teresa Palmer, and Chris Pratt reminiscing about their memorable experiences making the movie with a few select outtakes spread into the 8 ¼-minute featurette. It’s in 1080i.
The music boombox allows the viewer to skip directly to twelve different moments in the film where 80s hits like “Bette Davis Eyes, “Safety Dance,” “Everybody Have Fun Tonight,” and “Live If Life” play on the soundtrack. (The songs have not been presented as isolated from the dialogue, however, so you get the movie sound mix with each of these.) They’re in 1080p.
“Don’t You Want Me” music video runs for 4 minutes and is in 1080p. The actors from the film do spoofs of famous 1980s films during the song which is a new rerecording of the Human League hit by Atomic Tom.
The theatrical trailer runs 2 ½ minutes. Two TV spots each run 31 seconds. All are in 1080p.
The disc contains 1080p promo trailers for Cedar Rapids and Season of the Witch.
The second disc in the set is the digital copy of the movie with enclosed instructions for installation on PC and Mac devices.
2.5/5 (not an average)
Take Me Home Tonight might not be a memorable overall comedy, but it has moments of pure pleasure and genuine romance that will give lovers of romantic comedies something rather involving to watch provided they can also stomach the irksome and crude frat house bits that are also scattered throughout the film.