There are some movies that pop on the telly and you can’t turn away. You know what I’m talking about. We’re not talking about The Godfather or In Bruges or even Step Brothers. I mean the movies you flip to, know you should probably do something else, yet you’re glued. For one scene. Then another. You can’t seem to quit. You know this ‘film’ may not truly be worth a second, fourth, thirtieth time (guilty). Suddenly it’s a half hour later and you’re well on your way to forgetting about your homework, the dishes, or whatever task should really be your focus. You’ve seen it, you know it’s silly/bad/laughable/straight-to-dvd yet you keep coming back – and you’re not quite sure why you adore movies like this.
Sometimes movies like this are tied to a piece of nostalgia you cannot quite place. Sometimes you can’t help love the sappiness (Serendipity? Anyone? Anyone?). Maybe the movie is a delightful misstep for a beloved actor. Maybe you just want to see some explosions and a kickass hero beat someone up. Call them what you will, ‘Guilty pleasures’ seems too simplified. The connection is something else. Not really ‘good’ but also not necessarily ‘bad’, there’s a comfort in those lost hours. That comfort is not a feeling anyone should feel guilty about.
Most of us have lost some hours with That ’70s Show, but Topher Grace also has some solid movies to take up your time. He has a dorkily relatable and endearing nature that makes for easy watching, if not for award-winning masterpieces. We’ll settle for one movie for now, but know that Win a Date with Tad Hamilton! and In Good Company are also some GWW Topher Favorites. He’ll probably never take home an Oscar or Lifetime Achievement Award, but he can always have our heart, that beating mass he strikes at so easily.
Take Me Home Tonight (2011)
It doesn’t have the best script or cast or plot, but Take Me Home Tonight
has taken up many hours of my life. It does actually take on an interesting storyline, transplanting the usual “nerd chases the most beautiful girl in school” from high school to the awkward post-grad world of the early twenties. As Matt Franklin (the nerd), Grace is perfectly believable, more handsome than Eric Forman but still the same lovable loser, simply shot forward a few decades. Since high school, Matt has loved Tori Frederking (Teresa Palmer), who has an angelic face and an ideal name for a fictitious romantic interest, rolling off of the tongue just like “Wendy Peffercorn
.” Struggling to feel accomplished as he transitions to adult life, Matt decides to win Tori’s love at a Labor Day party, with the help of some merry misfits.
These misfits may be the reason my friends and I have lost so many summer hours watching this movie. Dan Fogler plays Barry, Matt’s creepy and portly friend with a penchant for getting into mischief. Anna Faris (playing a surprisingly intelligent character) is Matt’s sister, but more importantly she dates the party-thrower, Chris Pratt’s Kyle. Kyle is not a nice person, but his relentless ’80s preppiness is highly entertaining. Speaking of the ’80s, the soundtrack
filled with timeless hits that make it impossible not to root for Matt as he seeks his true love. Fogler was born to play Barry, and he steals most of his scenes, whether he’s trying cocaine or stealing a car from the dealership at which he works.
Chris Pratt, always amazing.
Barry and the other crazies all stand around normal, boring Matt, and that’s why the movie works. It’s without question made for young people, as Matt and his friends try to figure out what to do with their lives and who to be. More than just rooting for Matt to end up with Tori, you’ll connect with his desire to achieve some form of self-definition, some way of showing his parents and his sister and himself that he is capable of pushing forward and making the most of his ability while doing something he loves. For one night he gets to live freely in pursuit of his own desires. He tells us, “Tonight we’re not thinking…just doing,” and it makes for a hectic, stupid, and endearing night of both mishaps and victories.
Besides these melodramatic considerations, the movie is simply an entertaining romp filled with stupid decisions, necessary risks, and Demetri Martin scolding Matt and friends from a wheelchair, “Can you guys move? I’m tryin’ to f&%$in’ party here.” Young people of either gender will enjoy the memorable quotes and dangerous shenanigans, and the movie is the type that will bring together those watching to remind them of their own special friendships and mistakes they made and shared as a group. Perfect for summer and perfect for moving towards adulthood, Take Me Home Tonight will bring smiles to your face and a hopeful spirit to your soul. Plus, you can watch it for free on YouTube. The movie won’t change your world, but Matt and his gang help remind us that we can do that ourselves.
Lots of fun faces!