There are deep-dish ’80s nostalgia movies, like Adventureland and Hot Tub Time Machine. Then there’s Take Me Home Tonight, which duplicates the car crashes, drug jokes, all-night-long plot twists, and robot hip-hop dance moves of low-rent ’80s party flicks with such casual fidelity that you may ask: Why not just watch Losin’ It, Bachelor Party, or License to Drive instead? I can’t claim that Take Me Home Tonight, set in the summer of 1988, is much better than – or different from – the real (cheesy) thing, but it does possess a certain backward-glancing innocent appeal.
Topher Grace, as an MIT grad who has become the world’s most overqualified L.A. video-store clerk, looks longer and leaner than before, and he’s got a new confidence, too. He spends the film crashing beer bashes and pretending to be a big deal at Goldman Sachs, all to woo Teresa Palmer, who’s like Kristen Stewart minus the storm-cloud moodiness. The more he lies, the faster he talks, but that’s his rite of passage. (Any wuss can be sincere.) He also has to look after his pudgy-loser-sidekick buddy, played by Dan Fogler, who bounces off the walls like Jack Black and also evokes the smarmy-cute Curtis Armstrong from Risky Business. It gives you a jolt to recall, in this age of geek chic, that being unhip was once truly unhip. B