The flimsy premise revolves around underachieving video store clerk Matt (Grace) telling his high school crush Tori (Teresa Palmer) that he is a high-flying banker during a chance meeting. With his imbecilic sidekick Barry (Dan Fogler) and cynical twin sister Wendy (Faris) in tow, he arranges to hook up with the lass at an end-of-summer party. Various pratfalls ensue, such as the trio nicking a plush car to give off the impression that Matt is loaded and a bag of cocaine randomly falling into their clutches. None of these scenarios are remotely funny in their execution though, being abundant with tumbleweed and devoid of the exhilaration that was present in the Cameron Crowe and John Hughes coming-of-age '80s flicks that inspired this production.
There are occasional hints of a pretty flower growing through the dirt, mainly when Topher Grace's Matt emerges from his shell of blandness to vocalise the angst and uncertainty that dominates the lives of many folks in their early 20s. Against all odds, Grace even manages to build up a vaguely credible chemistry with Palmer despite the woefully inadequate and tedious manner in which the pair are thrown together. Long sequences when the pair simply gaze longingly into each other's eyes certainly help, as that means there's a merciful absence of the witless and banal dialogue that drags this movie down elsewhere.
The epicentre of nausea lies in Matt's best buddy Barry, who is intended to be one of those overweight, bubbly and boisterous stock characters that supply comic relief. The movie clearly wants us to laugh at his coke-fuelled romp with swingers and the frenzied dance-off he lands himself in, but Dan Fogler's hapless mugging at the camera reeks of the desperation that consumes the features of one Martin Lawrence instead.
It's easy to see why Take Me Home Tonight has been left on the shelf since 2007. Topher Grace and Teresa Palmer clearly have the ability to light up the big screen, much like Anna Faris has achieved in subsequent years, but their efforts cannot suppress the uninventive nature of the writing. It strives to have its heart in the right place and revive the excessive party spirit of the decade, but ultimately presents a tonally uneasy mish-mash of stale slapstick and naïve representations of drug use. This is one movie that's best off being thrown to the wolves. They're hungry, y'know...