Topher Grace, a lad whose entire career has basically consisted of little more than That ‘70s Show and upsetting Spider-Man fans up until this moment in time (look, that whole movie was doomed from the get-go: blame the studio, dammit), is out to prove a point. His argument goes something like this: “Look, I’m really capable of doing more. Really.” And I don’t disbelieve him on this one, either, kids: I happen to think Topher is a really talented feller — one that just doesn’t seem to get the credit he deserves. Seriously, I’m being legit here. Honest.
In his first film as actor/writer/producer, Senor Gracia goes the distance by bringing us Take Me Home Tonight — which many people might classify as Topher Grace’s Hot Tub Time Machine. And, while there are some similarities between the two movies (e.g. they’re both set in the ‘80s), there’s no possible way you can accuse Topher of ripping off John Cusack: for starters, there’s no hot tub, nor is there a time machine. Oh, that, and it took four years for Take Me Home Tonight to get released…which makes Monsieur La Grâce the clear victor here.
Shot in 2007, and given the temporary titles of Young Americans and Kids In America, Topher’s ode to the ‘80s and all that wonderful music and styles that are commonly associated with it found itself sitting on the shelf when Universal Studios found themselves at a standstill over the fact that the film featured some cocaine use. This is the same company that has released most of Judd Apatow’s flicks, mind you. Personally, I think the reason they didn’t want to take a chance on Take Me Home Tonight was because of Spider-Man 3. Yup, it sure smells like a conspiracy to me, kids.
Anyway, after Imagine Entertainment said “Yeah, sure, we’ll take a gamble on this one,” Take Me Home Tonight finally hit the silver screen: a venture that resulted in a very poor box office run — unlike Hot Tub Time Machine, which was not only a much lewder film (although still funny), but actually made some money at the cinema. Go figure. So, here we are: the inescapable home video release of a movie that didn’t do as well as it’s more-popular ‘80s nostalgia counterpart (don’t bring Adventureland into this, either: it was also made after this one — albeit by just a few months).
So, why the failure here? Well, I’m guessing it’s because this is more of a drama than a comedy. The story here centers on MIT graduate and mathematics genius Matt Franklin (Grace), who now finds himself working at Suncoast Video after becoming disillusioned with the world and what it — not to mention his hardworking folks — expects of him. After running into the beautiful Tori Fredreking (Teresa Palmer) — a girl from high school whom he has always had a crush on — one afternoon at work, he begins to do what every other dumb, red-blooded American kid tends to do: he lies about his life because he’s afraid to admit the reality of his existence.