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Take Me Home Tonight

Take Me Home Tonight, directed by Michael Dowse, is a comedy about the '80s, but its futility is timeless: In just about any decade it would be considered generic and unfunny. Set in 1988, it stars the likable and witty Topher Grace as Matt, a recent MIT grad with a crippling case of post-college career-indecision. Working as a lowly clerk at a video store, he has a chance encounter with his high-school crush, Tori (Teresa Palmer), who, to his (and our) surprise, actually displays faint interest in him. But Matt fails to pull the trigger, and so he resolves to make up for his lack of cojones when he sees her later that evening at a party hosted by the preppy douchebag boyfriend (Chris Pratt) of his twin sister, Wendy (Anna Faris).

This sets the stage for an eventual romantic union between Matt and Tori; until then, there is insecurity to overcome and wacky adventures to be had. Many of the latter stem from the increasingly unhinged behavior of Matt's best friend, Barry (Dan Fogler). The film turns on a bag of cocaine Barry finds in the glove compartment of a Mercedes stolen from the dealership that fired him earlier in the day. Cocaine is renowned for its ability to induce euphoria in even the most mundane of settings, but it has arguably the opposite effect on Take Me Home Tonight. I consider Fogler to be a legitimately funny guy, but he has the irritating tendency to compensate for underwritten material by wildly overacting. Throw in a bag of blow, and that tendency is amplified ten-fold.

A happy standout in the film is Palmer, who brings a liveliness and dignity to the stereotypical rom-com role of the Otherworldly Hottie Who Inexplicably Falls for the Stammering Schlub. (It also helps that she's the only member of the main cast who is young enough to realistically portray a recent college graduate.) She is one of the more talented young Australian exports to arrive on our shores in quite some time, and has the potential to become a saucier version of fellow Aussie Nicole Kidman. That is, if she finds material better than Take Me Home Tonight. rated this film 1 1/2 stars.