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Originally published March 3, 2011 at 12:07 AM | Page modified March 3, 2011 at 10:39 AM

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Movie review

'Take Me Home Tonight': a big '80s party you may not want to crash

A movie review of "Take Me Home Tonight," a flavorless string of pokes at fashion and 1988 period style when a bunch of college grads gather for a big party and hope for big things to happen. Topher Grace, Anna Faris and Dan Fogler star.

Special to The Seattle Times

Movie review 1.5 stars

'Take Me Home Tonight,' with Topher Grace, Anna Faris, Dan Fogler, Chris Pratt, Teresa Palmer. Directed by Michael Dowse, from a screenplay by Jackie Filgo and Jeff Filgo. 97 minutes. Rated R for language, sexual content and drug use. Several theaters.

It's a memory made glossy by hindsight — that one defining party in your past where anything could have happened, where you were on a cusp; an experience that remains a milestone in your coming of age. That's the way we've often seen it in movies, notably generational touchstones such as "Dazed and Confused" and "American Graffiti."

Not so much in "Take Me Home Tonight," a marginally competent castoff (filmed in 2007) in which older actors pretend to be young for a high-school-reunion event after their college graduations in 1988.

The night is filled with portent for twins Matt and Wendy Franklin (Topher Grace and Anna Faris) as they respectively long for and agonize over their special person in the midst of a zealous set designer's vision of a late-'80s bash.

Despite his new degree from MIT, Matt is working in a video store. That's VHS video, one of the many oversold props, design cues, dialogue references, pop songs and wardrobe enhancements to remind us how weird stuff was 20-plus years ago.

While Matt suffers angst over squandered potential, Wendy can't decide whether she wants to go to grad school or stay with her yuppie dope of a boyfriend (Chris Pratt).

When Matt's out-of-reach high-school crush (Teresa Palmer) walks into the store, he lies to impress her, then follows a predictable pattern of getting/losing/getting at the raucous all-night party hosted by Wendy's beau.

There are some successful gags along the way — Dan Fogler makes an intrepid effort at comic relief as Matt's roly-poly wannabe cool friend, and Topher Grace supplies a charming comic grace of his own.

Mostly, though, "Take Me Home" is a bland string of pokes at fashion and 1988 period style. It's also pretty technically uninspired in pacing and direction. Certainly not in league with the above mentioned big-night movies that were subsumed with a distinctive sense of humor and authentic mood of where-were-you-when.

Ted Fry: tedfry@hotmail.com

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