Take Me Home Tonight (2011) | Review by Hannah Brooks-Motl
We drove all the way to Chicopee to see Take Me Home Tonight. It wasn’t that there weren’t (finally!) worthy movies in Hadley. It wasn’t even that we wanted to see TMHT all that much. It was more that we were in a rut. Same theaters, same routines: a highly un-ironic beer at Arizona Pizza Company or a glass of thin red at Amherst Coffee; familiar faces selling us our medium popcorns and sodas; a shuffle back through the parking lots’ beached and blackening snowdrifts that we could perform in our sleep. One feels that the edges between things, the sharp points of consciously experiencing one’s experiences, have utterly flattened or dissolved and we now swim in the soup of what the Catholic Church conveniently labels “ordinary time.” A dull slab of year; an incipience. In need of some springtime ostranenie? We can only recommend Entertainment Cinemas in the Springfield Plaza, Chicopee, MA. The theater itself is a riddle of branding: how large the chain from whence it sprang? Why is the main lobby rife with “50’s retro touches” (neon piping; decorative arches, etc.) that suggest money and thematic ambition, yet all the employees wear nametags obviously printed on a Word doc in 18 point calligraphy font? And is it just us, or are they all talking a little too loudly? And what is that smell? And why are there no urinals in the men’s room?
Oh the coy tease of the new! Entertainment Cinemas actually turned out to be the perfect venue in which to view TMHT, a movie that is a head-scratcher in several, mainly formal, ways too. First: it is set in 1988. Why? To poke fun at the conventions of the 80’s, not to say ‘80s movies, surely. To hold up the ridiculous hair-styles, and fashions, and slang, and yuppie greed, the predictable plots twists, the loser-boy-lusts-loses-loves-winner girl romance to our cleverer, better-attired, more cinematically-savvy gaze, helping us all applaud the ways in which simply being born in a different calendrical year lets us feel aesthetically superior because more knowing. Because more versed. Because more movies have happened and we have seen them. TMHT sets its stage in the ‘80s and stuffs itself with the music, and the bangs, and the plot conventions, but then forgets that it was supposed to use those elements in some interesting manner. It proceeds on its movie-way, telling its (predictable) story straight. It’s like a New Formalist poem—some pretty perfect but hideously dull villanelle—to Hot Tub Time Machine’s disgustingly readable Tao Lin-esque flight of fancy. Go see this movie if you thought Topher Grace was actually out earning dozens of masters’ degrees and not getting wasted and sad on drugs these past few years. His new maturity and bizarre watchability may make him a real actor yet.