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“Take Me Home Tonight,” Reviewed

“Take Me Home Tonight,” Reviewed (photo)

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If you’re going to set your 80s comedy in the same fictional universe as the classic 80s comedies of John Hughes, you better make sure your movie is good enough to withstand the comparison. “Take Me Home Tonight” just isn’t. Its characters are graduates of Shermer High — the same fictional school where Hughes set movies like “Sixteen Candles” and “The Breakfast Club” — which means Topher Grace’s Matt might have shared classes with Alan Ruck’s Cameron Frye and Dan Fogler’s Barry could have been locker neighbors with Judd Nelson’s John Bender. But I have a hard time imagining anyone twenty-five years from now making their own homage to “Take Me Home Tonight,” or, for that matter, even remembering this mediocre comedy at all.

Grace, Fogler, and Anna Faris star as the oldest looking 22-year-olds in movie history (Grace, Fogler, and Faris were 29, 30, and 30 respectively when the film was shot back in 2007. It’s sat on the shelf, allegedly because of its rampant cocaine humor, since then). Grace’s Matt graduated from MIT but can’t decide what to do with his life, so he’s figuring things out while living at home with his twin sister Wendy (Faris) and working at a Suncoast Video. Appropriately for a movie about nostalgia, Matt is trapped in his own past. He’s never stopped pining for his high school crush Tori (Teresa Palmer), who randomly walks into Suncoast one morning and invites him to a raging Labor Day party where, you can be sure, every possible 80s cliche from music, to fashion, to drugs, will be trotted out and tweaked for a joke or two.

There are a couple of amusing cameos, particularly Demetri Martin as a brash, wheelchair-bound stockbroker, but just as many members of the large and impressive cast are totally wasted. Lucy Punch has maybe five lines as a crazy party girl with a crush on Grace; Bob Odenkirk has even less than that as Fogler’s boss. Worst of all is the film’s misuse of Anna Faris, maybe the funniest female actress in Hollywood today. As far as I’m concerned, if you cast Faris in a movie and you can’t find anything funny for her to do, you have committed a cinematic crime. Here she goes nowhere with a subplot about her dopey boyfriend Kyle (Chris Pratt) and then disappears completely for thirty minutes while Grace and Palmer fall in love over their mutual enjoyment of the penis game. That’s not a joke, either now or its original context in the film.

Most of the comedic load falls on Fogler’s shoulders who, it must be said, is trying very hard. The screenplay by Grace, Gordon Kaywin, and Jackie and Jeff Filgo calls on him for repeated pratfalls, occassional drug binges, one tragically uncoordinated dance contest, and a very disturbing ménage à trois. Grace, like the rest of the leads, is way too old for his part but at least his presence adds a fascinating subtext to a film about people worrying that they have already missed their chance to do something special with their talents. When Matt moans “I’ve been so afraid of life, I’ve missed my life!” you can’t help but wonder whether it’s the character speaking or Grace himself, who’s made a couple good films and a lot of dreck in his career, and who’s still playing recent college graduates at age 30.

As a movie lover myself, I completely understand filmmakers’ desire to pay homage to the movies that inspired them. I’m a child of the 80s too and if it weren’t for these films, I might not be doing this job, either. But it can be dangerous to remind audiences of the smarter, funnier movies they could be watching instead of yours. My advice? Don’t just make people remember their old favorites. Make them forget their old favorites by giving them a new one.

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Hard Out

Comedy From The Closet

Janice and Jeffrey Available Now On IFC's Comedy Crib

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She’s been referred to as “the love child of Amy Sedaris and Tracy Ullman,” and he’s a self-described “Italian who knows how to cook a great spaghetti alla carbonara.” They’re Mollie Merkel and Matteo Lane, prolific indie comedians who blended their robust creative juices to bring us the new Comedy Crib series Janice and Jeffrey. Mollie and Matteo took time to answer our probing questions about their series and themselves. Here’s a taste.

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IFC: How would you describe Janice and Jeffrey to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Mollie & Matteo: Janice and Jeffrey is about a married couple experiencing intimacy issues but who don’t have a clue it’s because they are gay. Their oblivion makes them even more endearing.  Their total lack of awareness provides for a buffet of comedy.

IFC: What’s your origin story? How did you two people meet and how long have you been working together?

Mollie: We met at a dive bar in Wrigley Field Chicago. It was a show called Entertaining Julie… It was a cool variety scene with lots of talented people. I was doing Janice one night and Matteo was doing an impression of Liza Minnelli. We sort of just fell in love with each other’s… ACT! Matteo made the first move and told me how much he loved Janice and I drove home feeling like I just met someone really special.

IFC: How would Janice describe Jeffrey?

Mollie: “He can paint, cook homemade Bolognese, and sing Opera. Not to mention he has a great body. He makes me feel empowered and free. He doesn’t suffocate me with attention so our love has room to breath.”

IFC: How would Jeffrey describe Janice?

Matteo: “Like a Ford. Built to last.”

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Mollie & Matteo: Our current political world is mirroring and reflecting this belief that homosexuality is wrong. So what better time for satire. Everyone is so pro gay and equal rights, which is of course what we want, too. But no one is looking at middle America and people actually in the closet. No one is saying, hey this is really painful and tragic, and sitting with that. Having compassion but providing the desperate relief of laughter…This seemed like the healthiest, best way to “fight” the gay rights “fight”.

IFC: Hummus is hilarious. Why is it so funny?

Mollie: It just seems like something people take really seriously, which is funny to me. I started to see it in a lot of lesbians’ refrigerators at a time. It’s like observing a lesbian in a comfortable shoe. It’s a language we speak. Pass the Hummus. Turn on the Indigo Girls would ya?

See the whole season of Janice and Jeffrey right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Die Hard Dads

Inspiration For Die Hard Dads

Die Hard is on IFC all Father's Day Long

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIPHY

Yippee ki-yay, everybody! It’s time to celebrate the those most literal of mother-effers: dads!

And just in case the title of this post left anything to the imagination, IFC is giving dads balls-to-the-wall ’80s treatment with a glorious marathon of action trailblazer Die Hard.

There are so many things we could say about Die Hard. We could talk about how it was comedian Bruce Willis’s first foray into action flicks, or Alan Rickman’s big screen debut. But dads don’t give a sh!t about that stuff.

No, dads just want to fantasize that they could be deathproof quip factory John McClane in their own mundane lives. So while you celebrate the fathers in your life, consider how John McClane would respond to these traditional “dad” moments…

Wedding Toasts

Dads always struggle to find the right words of welcome to extend to new family. John McClane, on the other hand, is the master of inclusivity.
Die Hard wedding

Using Public Restrooms

While nine out of ten dads would rather die than use a disgusting public bathroom, McClane isn’t bothered one bit. So long as he can fit a bloody foot in the sink, he’s G2G.
Die Hard restroom

Awkward Dancing

Because every dad needs a signature move.
Die Hard dance

Writing Thank You Notes

It can be hard for dads to express gratitude. Not only can McClane articulate his thanks, he makes it feel personal.
Die Hard thank you

Valentine’s Day

How would John McClane say “I heart you” in a way that ain’t cliche? The image speaks for itself.
Die Hard valentines

Shopping

The only thing most dads hate more than shopping is fielding eleventh-hour phone calls with additional items for the list. But does McClane throw a typical man-tantrum? Nope. He finds the words to express his feelings like a goddam adult.
Die Hard thank you

Last Minute Errands

John McClane knows when a fight isn’t worth fighting.
Die Hard errands

Sneaking Out Of The Office Early

What is this, high school? Make a real exit, dads.
Die Hard office

Think you or your dad could stand to be more like Bruce? Role model fodder abounds in the Die Hard marathon all Father’s Day long on IFC.

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Founding Farters

Know Your Nerd History

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIFs via Giphy

That we live in the heyday of nerds is no hot secret. Scientists are celebrities, musicians are robots and late night hosts can recite every word of the Silmarillion. It’s too easy to think that it’s always been this way. But the truth is we owe much to our nerd forebearers who toiled through the jock-filled ’80s so that we might take over the world.

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Our humble beginnings are perhaps best captured in iconic ’80s romp Revenge of the Nerds. Like the founding fathers of our Country, the titular nerds rose above their circumstances to culturally pave the way for every Colbert and deGrasse Tyson that we know and love today.

To make sure you’re in the know about our very important cultural roots, here’s a quick download of the vengeful nerds without whom our shameful stereotypes might never have evolved.

Lewis Skolnick

The George Washington of nerds whose unflappable optimism – even in the face of humiliating self-awareness – basically gave birth to the Geek Pride movement.

Gilbert Lowe

OK, this guy is wet blanket, but an important wet blanket. Think Aaron Burr to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton. His glass-mostly-empty attitude is a galvanizing force for Lewis. Who knows if Lewis could have kept up his optimism without Lowe’s Debbie-Downer outlook?

Arnold Poindexter

A music nerd who, after a soft start (inside joke, you’ll get it later), came out of his shell and let his passion lead instead of his anxiety. If you played an instrument (specifically, electric violin), and you were a nerd, this was your patron saint.

Booger

A sex-loving, blunt-smoking, nose-picking guitar hero. If you don’t think he sounds like a classic nerd, you’re absolutely right. And that’s the whole point. Along with Lamar, he simultaneously expanded the definition of nerd and gave pre-existing nerds a twisted sort of cred by association.

Lamar Latrell

Black, gay, and a crazy good breakdancer. In other words, a total groundbreaker. He proved to the world that nerds don’t have a single mold, but are simply outcasts waiting for their moment.

Ogre

Exceedingly stupid, this dumbass was monumental because he (in a sequel) leaves the jocks to become a nerd. Totally unheard of back then. Now all jocks are basically nerds.

Well, there they are. Never forget that we stand on their shoulders.

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC all month long.

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