DID YOU READ

“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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New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…

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

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. 

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number! 

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time. 

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by. 

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IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo. 

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim. 

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t? 

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?” 

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud. 

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

The-Craft

The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”

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Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).

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Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.

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And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.

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Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.

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Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.

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Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!

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Inter-not

Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.

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Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.

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If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.