The 27th Best Movie I saw this year: Take Me Home Tonight

You will think, seeing this film so far down, that I didn’t enjoy this movie very much, but you would be wrong. We’ve moved into the realm of the flawed-but-still-good movies, of which I saw a large number this year. In fact, I may have seen more movies in this category this year than I ever have. Even the movie currently in my number one spot has some real flaws to it. No movie I saw this year would be in my top-three from last year, and last year’s top-ten was much stronger than this one.

But I think the overall quality of movies I saw this year was better. My number 18 movie last year was Iron Man 2, a film Take Me Home Tonight is much better than, and once I reorganize the list to include the films I most recently saw, it’ll actually end up even further down the list, being compared to messes like The A-Team and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader [Ed: it ended up even lower than that]. So take this low rating with a grain of salt: I really enjoyed this movie. And that goes for all the movies that follow it [All 26 of them. Oh my god, what have I gotten myself into?].

Of course, there was no reason to assume I would like it, since Take Me Home Tonight was filmed in 2007 and sat on a shelf for several years. Not usually the sign of a good comedy. But the film is carefree and fun and surprisingly heartfelt. It’s a solid cable and DVD movie, and I hope it gets a reputation as a solid cult film. It deserved better than the lukewarm reception it got at the box office, but that’s what you get when you shoot a comedy packed with eighties references and then release it well after the eighties-joke bubble has burst.

Time-stamping the movie further is the presence of Dan Fogler, the wild-eyed comedian that movie studio tried to make happen from about 2006-2008 without success. He’s okay here, bringing that same strange, manic energy to the role that he brought to all his roles, but you get why he disappeared so quickly after his brief moment in the sun.

Much better are Anna Faris, Topher Grace, and Teresa Palmer. I’ve written a number of times why I feel Faris is a severely underrated comedian, partially because seeks out broad comedies rather than indie darlings, but probably mostly because she’s a woman. This last year, society seemed to move from “women aren’t funny” to “the women in Bridesmaids are funny, but no other women.” Eventually, we’ll recognize that Faris is a much stronger comedian than, say, Kevin James, but just in less successful movies.

As for Grace, I’ve always liked him and don’t know why he isn’t a bigger star. Maybe he’s pushing too hard to get lead roles rather than supporting ones, but he’s a welcome presence in any movie (he livened the hell out of Too Big To Fail, that’s for certain). I’d like to see more of him in movies that aren’t Valentine’s Day or Predators.

The big find of this movie, though is Teresa Palmer. Who is this girl? Why is she in no movies? I demand that Hollywood fix this. She’s wonderful here – warm, complicated, interesting – and all in a role that doesn’t really require much of an actress, that of the perfect, secretly accessible hot girl. Normally these roles get handed to the Megan Foxes of the world, so it’s nice to see the role given to someone with a little range. 

In short, Take Me Home Tonight is all you require a lighthearted rom-com to be: fun, frothy, but layered enough to keep you invested. And, if nothing else, it’s definitely better than The A-Team.