“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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Bro and Tell

BFFs And Night Court For Sports

Bromance and Comeuppance On Two New Comedy Crib Series

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“Silicon Valley meets Girls meets black male educators with lots of unrealized potential.”

That’s how Carl Foreman Jr. and Anthony Gaskins categorize their new series Frank and Lamar which joins Joe Schiappa’s Sport Court in the latest wave of new series available now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. To better acquaint you with the newbies, we went right to the creators for their candid POVs. And they did not disappoint. Here are snippets of their interviews:

Frank and Lamar


IFC: How would you describe Frank and Lamar to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?
Carl: Best bros from college live and work together teaching at a fancy Manhattan private school, valiantly trying to transition into a more mature phase of personal and professional life while clinging to their boyish ways.

IFC: And to a friend of a friend you met in a bar?
Carl: The same way, slightly less coherent.

Anthony: I’d probably speak about it with much louder volume, due to the bar which would probably be playing the new Kendrick Lamar album. I might also include additional jokes about Carl, or unrelated political tangents.

Carl: He really delights in randomly slandering me for no reason. I get him back though. Our rapport on the page, screen, and in real life, comes out of a lot of that back and forth.

IFC: In what way is Frank and Lamar a poignant series for this moment in time?
Carl: It tells a story I feel most people aren’t familiar with, having young black males teach in a very affluent white world, while never making it expressly about that either. Then in tackling their personal lives, we see these three-dimensional guys navigate a pivotal moment in time from a perspective I feel mainstream audiences tend not to see portrayed.

Anthony: I feel like Frank and Lamar continues to push the envelope within the genre by presenting interesting and non stereotypical content about people of color. The fact that this show brought together so many talented creative people, from the cast and crew to the producers, who believe in the project, makes the work that much more intentional and truthful. I also think it’s pretty incredible that we got to employ many of our friends!

Sport Court

Sport Court gavel

IFC: How would you describe Sport Court to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?
Joe: SPORT COURT follows Judge David Linda, a circuit court judge assigned to handle an ad hoc courtroom put together to prosecute rowdy fan behavior in the basement of the Hartford Ultradome. Think an updated Night Court.

IFC: How would you describe Sport Court to drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?
Joe: Remember when you put those firecrackers down that guy’s pants at the baseball game? It’s about a judge who works in a court in the stadium that puts you in jail right then and there. I know, you actually did spend the night in jail, but imagine you went to court right that second and didn’t have to get your brother to take off work from GameStop to take you to your hearing.

IFC: Is there a method to your madness when coming up with sports fan faux pas?
Joe: I just think of the worst things that would ruin a sporting event for everyone. Peeing in the slushy machine in open view of a crowd seemed like a good one.

IFC: Honestly now, how many of the fan transgressions are things you’ve done or thought about doing?
Joe: I’ve thought about ripping out a whole row of chairs at a theater or stadium, so I would have my own private space. I like to think of that really whenever I have to sit crammed next to lots of people. Imagine the leg room!

Check out the full seasons of Frank and Lamar and Sport Court now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Millennial Wisdom

Charles Speaks For Us All

Get to know Charles, the social media whiz of Brockmire.

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He may be an unlikely radio producer Brockmire, but Charles is #1 when it comes to delivering quips that tie a nice little bow on the absurdity of any given situation.

Charles also perfectly captures the jaded outlook of Millennials. Or at least Millennials as mythologized by marketers and news idiots. You know who you are.

Played superbly by Tyrel Jackson Williams, Charles’s quippy nuggets target just about any subject matter, from entry-level jobs in social media (“I plan on getting some experience here, then moving to New York to finally start my life.”) to the ramifications of fictional celebrity hookups (“Drake and Taylor Swift are dating! Albums y’all!”). But where he really nails the whole Millennial POV thing is when he comments on America’s second favorite past-time after type II diabetes: baseball.

Here are a few pearls.

On Baseball’s Lasting Cultural Relevance

“Baseball’s one of those old-timey things you don’t need anymore. Like cursive. Or email.”

On The Dramatic Value Of Double-Headers

“The only thing dumber than playing two boring-ass baseball games in one day is putting a two-hour delay between the boring-ass games.”

On Sartorial Tradition

“Is dressing badly just a thing for baseball, because that would explain his jacket.”

On Baseball, In A Nutshell

“Baseball is a f-cked up sport, and I want you to know it.”

Learn more about Charles in the behind-the-scenes video below.

And if you were born before the late ’80s and want to know what the kids think about Baseball, watch Brockmire Wednesdays at 10P on IFC.

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Crown Jules

Amanda Peet FTW on Brockmire

Amanda Peet brings it on Brockmire Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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GIFS via Giphy

On Brockmire, Jules is the unexpected yin to Jim Brockmire’s yang. Which is saying a lot, because Brockmire’s yang is way out there. Played by Amanda Peet, Jules is hard-drinking, truth-spewing, baseball-loving…everything Brockmire is, and perhaps what he never expected to encounter in another human.

“We’re the same level of functional alcoholic.”

But Jules takes that commonality and transforms it into something special: a new beginning. A new beginning for failing minor league baseball team “The Frackers”, who suddenly about-face into a winning streak; and a new beginning for Brockmire, whose life gets a jumpstart when Jules lures him back to baseball. As for herself, her unexpected connection with Brockmire gives her own life a surprising and much needed goose.

“You’re a Goddamn Disaster and you’re starting To look good to me.”

This palpable dynamic adds depth and complexity to the narrative and pushes the series far beyond expected comedy. See for yourself in this behind-the-scenes video (and brace yourself for a unforgettable description of Brockmire’s genitals)…

Want more about Amanda Peet? She’s all over the place, and has even penned a recent self-reflective piece in the New York Times.

And of course you can watch the Jim-Jules relationship hysterically unfold in new episodes of Brockmire, every Wednesday at 10PM on IFC.

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