take_me_home_tonight_cc_fc_web.jpgSpecial to South Florida TimesI was born in 1983, so I’m not old enough to be nostalgic about the 1980s films that came out when I was a little girl.  However, thanks to the power of syndication, home video, and the DVD, I can appreciate all of those films that pre-date my formative years.

Films like Sixteen Candles, Weird Science, The Breakfast Club, and St. Elmo’s Fire came to mind when I screened Take Me Home Tonight recently.

Despite the films having come out when I was a toddler, they still had this electric feel to them.  You didn’t know what was going to happen next, and when you found out, you were excited to feel a part of it.

The same holds true for Take Me Home Tonight.  In Take, Matthew Franklin, played by Topher Grace, is a poor Los Angeles schlub who has just graduated from MIT, living with his parents and working at Suncoast Video.  Just when you think he couldn’t be any more pathetic, he runs into his high school crush Tori Frederking (Teresa Palmer) at Suncoast on a 1988 Labor Day.  Matt pretends he doesn’t work there and manages to talk himself up as a banker with Goldman Sacs.  From there, the movie gets fun.

Screenwriters Jackie Filgo and Jeff Filgo managed to not only recapture the classic films of the 1980s, but they’ve also recaptured what it’s like to be in your early 20s and have no direction. Sure, Matt graduated from MIT and had a high paying job at a lab.  But, he walked away from that job, feeling like it wasn’t his calling.  How many of us have done that?

Another great plot point that harks back to the 80s is that the entire film takes place in one day and the underdogs are the ones on top.  Matt’s friend Barry Nathan (Dan Fogler) has just been fired from the BMW dealership he has worked at for the four years Matt was away at college.  Matt’s twin sister, Wendy, is waiting to find out if she has been accepted to graduate school in London and getting serious with her hot-head boyfriend, Kyle.  All the ingredients to make for a good 1980s film.

I love the fact that Matt and company decide to spend their Labor Day night living for the moment and having a good time, despite doing illegal activities.  They show that time in our lives when we’re old enough to know better and still young enough to make stupid mistakes.

Director Michael Dowse also deserves some credit for capturing that 1980s look and feel, down to the set design.  Dowse’s use of color and choice of cinematography really pull the film together well.

I absolutely loved Take Me Home Tonight.  It’s a great trip to the 1980s and speaks to the still starving artist in me.  However, I have one complaint: why do Grace and Fogler get to say the “N” word, not once, but twice?

Speaking of Grace and Fogler, they make quite the team.  Grace’s straight-laced Matt is the perfect yang to Fogler’s sleazy yin.  While Matt is the cautious one to think things through, Barry is the one who never thinks about the consequences of his actions.  Both men can learn from the other, making this relationship a great bromance. 

Even though I am a product of the 1990s and its awesomely bad hair and clothing, I appreciate the 1980s.  The music was big.  The hair was big.  The shoulder pads even bigger.  And, the films had the promise of electric fun that can only be ascribed to the invention of the electric guitar.

Still in my 20s and wondering when my next adventure will begin, I appreciate Take Me Home Tonight and its storyline.  If for nothing else than to realize that the growing pangs that I still feel at my age are perfectly normal; if not electrifying.

Kimberly Grant may be reached at KAliciaG@aol.com