Starring: Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis, Ed Helms, Justin Bartha, Ken Jeong, Jeffrey Tambor, Paul Giamatti, Jamie Chung, Nick Cassavettes

Director: Todd Phillips

Writer(s): Craig Mazin, Scot Armstrong, Todd Phillips

Cinematography: Lawrence Sher

Original Score: Christophe Beck

Running Time: 102 Mins.

It’s very rare for a sequel to outdo its original, Toy Story 2, Aliens and most prolifically The Godfather: Part 2 are always touted as bettering their first entries. The latter of which Todd Phillips has acknowledged as a benchmark to measure up to in sequel terms with his comedy surprise smash hit of two summer’s back, The Hangover. Let’s face it there was likely a hint of wry sarcasm in that comment however it doesn’t forgive the director/writer for churning out a film that is less a sequel and more a premature remake, switching the debauched Las Vegas for somewhere even more grimy, Bangkok. Yes this allows for the “bigger is better” mantra that is often applied in the “rules of sequels” handbook but the sheer laziness of plotting does have a tendency to irk.

So, much like last time around (too much so) there is an impending wedding, this time it is Stu’s (Helms) and the guys set about having a quiet bachelor brunch, this then moves to a quiet drink on the beach followed by the blackout and the titular hangover. This, as last time, leaves Stu, Phill (Cooper) and Alan (Galifianakis) traipsing around Bangkok in search of answers and the bride-to-be’s lost brother. Yes some characters are switched fr the purpose of not being a total remake, as are plot elements but having a monkey rather than a Tiger and a an elderly monk rather than a baby won’t fool anyone with half a brain cell. These guys have a formula that worked, wonderfully, and have no intention of veering too far from it. Though this leads me to comedy sequels in general, they aren’t that abundant and as Will Ferrell will testify with Anchorman or Ben Stiller with Zoolander, raising the cash is hard especially if the sequel idea is different from the premise that garnered the originals box office buck. The  Hangover: Part 2 was a no-brainer really, the idea of men piecing together a wild night of drunken antics in other locales is ripe for sequel ideas, that plot thrust alone providing opportunity but actual points that leave no surprise are more of an issue.

Thankfully now I have cleared up the lack of ambition in terms of plot I can get to the important bits, the laughs. So where plot hits the same beats so to does the laugh quota (almost), it lacks a couple of that films better set pieces (the casino, the chapel) but makes way for some hilarious (and inevitable) episodes with ladyboys and a monastery, though not at once, that would just be wrong! Alan’s screen time is bumped up more and we learn more about him and despite going through the (plot) motions what a sequel allows time for is to appreciate these very well written comedy characters, the wolf pack is back and make the most of their second adventure to build on friendships in a non-cheesey way but still sincere. Doug in particular gets to be more than two-dimensions of characterisation, and if Phill is still just the sleazy-womanizer he does it well enough that it doesn’t really matter.

Filling out the cast is Mr. Chow, also in an expanded role, providing enough laughs to make his return a welcome one, less so if Justin Bartha, the guy is great at comedy yet he simply sits on the sidelines when his involvement in the nights machinations would have been welcome and added a new dimension and something a little fresher to something that will quickly become stale if yet another identikit film is wrought from the exact same premise.  Also Teddy is a forgettable cipher to set the wheels in motion, not really given anything more to do than act out his “prodigal son” role, the much vaunted role of the tattoo artist who was once meant to be Mel Gibson then Liam Neeson is simply there for exposition and Paul Giamatti pops up for a needless subplot that mirrors that of Chow in the original, such a shame given the man’s comedy credentials.

As with the original the film is well shot and photographed for a comedy, grounded in a real world of grime and smut it is lit more like a thriller than a comedy, befitting of the seedy and smutty jokes, talking of which nothing is deemed sacred. As expected the comedy depths are mined, in the best possible way of course, these men have no taste (again in the best possible way) meaning that the aforementioned ladyboys turn up for the biggest laughs, the monkey smokes and that’s just the start of it! So overall The Hangover: Part 2 does as a comedy should, a good one at that, gives us characters we love and a constant flow of jokes, some of which are chuckles with other (and more often) full-blown belly laughs…really could have done without Mike Tyson and his very much unfunny ballad!

VERDICT

The Hangover: Part 2 is more remake than sequel, sticking excruciatingly close to its forebear. Thank god then that it is very nearly just as funny, even without the surprise and originality of the first, some testament to how well written The Wolfpack are.

Starring: Belen Rueda, Lluis Homar, Pablo Derqui, Francesc Orella, Joan Dalmau

Director: Guillen Morales

Writer: Guillen Morales

Cinematography: Oscar Faura

Original Score: Fernando Velasquez

Running Time: 112 Mins.

Very few horror films manage to shock, let alone scare, in this day and age of over-saturated torture porn and the never-ending flow of remakes, both of these facts point to a severe lack of ambition and originality particularly in the Hollywood production line. So thank heavens for Spanish horror and in particular Guillermo Del Toro and the new talent he nurtures, thanks to the bankability of that man’s name we see the horror gems such as The Orphanage and now Julia’s Eyes make it to our screens…sadly the chances are that these are films that would otherwise be overlooked. 

Del Toro himself started this latin trend, The Devils Backbone and Cronos set the tone, cemented with the excellent Pan’s Labyrinth, but it was the orphanage that really scared of all of those films, and that is the one that the man himself didn’t direct! So to Julia’s Eyes, as I have already mentioned it is another fine addition to that roster though it really is its own beast. Rather than simply repeating formula for another supernatural spook-fest as would, and could, have been the easy path instead we have a film that genre-bends, a psychological character study, medical tropes are thrown in along with out-and-out slasher elements, in fact this is the closest we have had to an original slasher film in years.

However do not let that label deceive, this is a complex film in that the plot unfurls to reveal more and more in its intriguing mystery. As I would always incur, the subtitles are beneficial and lend themselves to having the viewer concentrate more than they would have done otherwise making for an immersive shocker. Of course it helps to have an actress as good as Belen Rueda in the dual role of Sara and the twin sister Julia, Sara dies in the film’s opening throes in a tense scene that very much sets the mood, dimly lit and evoking a sense of the unknown and the heightened senses that come about from the loss of sight, Sara is blind and can see a figure in the shadows…is it ghost, man or something else?

The mystery is kept up for the most-part until a surprising twist that turns the film into something a tad more generic, it suffers a little for this…I’d have liked everything to remain a little more supernatural, but the steps it takes aren’t unbelievable and does admittedly ground the proceedings in a more common “reality”. The real winner though is the film up to this reveal, the sense of dread is palpable and there are some ingenious kills, but it is the way in which we literally take the point of view of Julia and her quickly deteriorating eyesight, images flash in and out, sounds crash loudly giving us a few cheap jumps that add to rather than detract from the overall experience.

The main point though is that, as with The Orphanage, this is a film that gets under your skin, it borrows from many other (admittedly better) films but wraps itself up into such a tense and atmospheric package that any misgivings are either easily missed or overlooked, the finale may lack the scares of what can before but it is saying something that you leave feeling chilled rather than placated by another great Spanish horror opus.

VERDICT

Julia’s Eyes keeps up the great wave of Spanish chillers bringing a slasher movie aesthetic into the mix, yes it loses it’s way a touch towards the end but not anywhere near enough to detract from the creepy whole.


Starring: Jason Statham, Paddy Considine, Aiden Gillen, David Morrissey, Luke Evans, Zawe Ashton

Director: Elliot Lester

Writer(s): Nathan Parker, Ken Bruen (novel)

Cinematography: Rob Hardy

Original Score: Ilan Eshkeri

Running Time: 97 Mins.

The last film to be based on a Ken Bruen novel was the gritty gangster flick London Boulevard, it wasn’t all that well received and failed to make much impact at the box office. A great shame as it had a lot of great elements despite a slightly mixed tone that didn’t always gel all of the ideas together as I suspect the film-makers intended. So to Blitz, the second of Bruen’s novels to find itself spawning a film adaptation, Blitz also suffers a similar issue though as with London Boulevard it doesn’t hinder the overall enjoyment of the finished product. The setting is the same, inner-city London and like that film the landmark spots are thankfully avoided and in place is a grittier nd more grounded tour through many grey back alleys, grimy apartment blocks and the central hub of a police station. These are not unusual spots to see Jason “The Stath” Statham frequenting whilst beating the hell out of all and sundry who cross him, an example of this opens the film and sets the tone for a London based Crank/Transporter/Mechanic clone…thankfully this is a misleading first 5 minutes.

Having established Statham’s DS Brant as an alcoholic hard-ass who doesn’t take any messing (quite frankly he was never going to be anything else was he), we see he has been in the papers and bringing down the name of his station by being a little too rough and ready (again, no surprise there), but what would you know, he’s a good guy after all and he gets the job done. Oddly following the initial bout of Brant kicking ass there is little in the way of action and the story kicks into gear, a cop killer is on the lose and who better to catch him than DS Brant. This being a cop film Brant needs a mismatched partner, this time in the shape of Paddy Considine’s Porter Nash, the rub being that Nash is gay and frequently ribbed because of it. Inevitably there are some cheap shot jokes from Brant but they form a mutual understanding (shocker there) and set about finding the “Blitz”, occasionally breaking the rules to get the job done.

If this all sounds a little trite, it is, but the whole thing is handled with it’s tongue firmly inserted in cheek, the dark vein of humour is much like that in London Boulevard but as mentioned before so to does the tone jar a touch. Alongside the solid (but run of the mill) police investigation story is the personal plight of Statham with only one or two misplaced punch-ups thrown in (presumably to appease fans of The Stath). The truth is the guy can act, if only in one style, and in the correct role it works wonders, as it does here, whether he is consoling a grieving colleague or pursuading a snitch to talk, he convinces. Similarly Considine is as great as ever, showing yet another bow to his very wide range, Nash is subtle and quiet saying on what needs saying and downplaying his sexuality where it easily could have been ramped to OTT and unconvincing levels in the wrong hands.

The clincher for me though was the handling of the plot, someone killing cops is hardly a new concept as it turns the investigating police in to avenging angels, but the perpetrator (Aiden Gillen) is a truly memorable villain, wronged by Brant in the past he is a true nutcase and convinces as one too, yes he IS OTT but dials it down enough when needed to be more than a mere cartoon character pyscho, and when the three central characters finally meet it makes for an explosively tense showdown. But yes, as I said it is far from perfect, the subplots (involving a druggie wannabe Sergeant and a dodgy reporter in the form of David Morrissey) are weak and lifeless adding little to the overall package and it won’t win any prizes for originality or subtlety but as a Friday night crime thriller you could do a lot worse.

VERDICT

Don’t let the poster mislead you, Blitz is a vehicle for “The Stath” but he spends more time investigating than bashing in heads. This though is a good thing and throw in Paddy Considine and Aiden Gillen and you have the recipe for a very enjoyable, though far from original, crime thriller with bite.

Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Cate Blanchett, Eric Bana, Olivia Williams, Jason Flemyng, Tom Hollander, Vicky Krieps, Jessica Barden

Director: Joe Wright

Writer: Seth Lochhead, David Farr,

Cinematography: Alwin H. Kuchler

Original Score: The Chemical Brothers

Running Time: 111 Mins.

For better or worse films seem to fall in the camp marked mainstream or indie, mainstream films are crowd-pleasing by their very nature, you know what you’re getting the expectation is fulfilled (usually) and in a great mainstream film the expectations are exceeded but not usually at the expense of subversion. Indie films opposingly offer a skewed perspective, maybe something a little more grounded in the “real world” and take more time to craft characters, though this can more often than not result in a plodding, or leisurely, pace and don’t usually concern themselves with “plot drive” all that much. Why is this significant you may wonder? And why so for a review of director Joe Wright’s fourth film Hanna?

Well here’s the rub, Hanna is a film that has sold itself as a solid genre piece, a thriller about a genetically enhanced experiment (Saoirse Ronan) who is on a mission to kill her mother’s murderer, corrupt CIA operative Marissa, and there’s more, Hanna has been trained and brought up by Erik (Bana) a man she believes is her father while Marissa has set an “eccentric” hitman on Hanna’s trail. In fact this all rather adds up to a worthy entry into the ranks of Leon and The Assassin…except it doesn’t. At some points in the film the action piques, the pace quickens and the thriller I was looking forward too emerged. Ronan makes for a convincing killer and Bana demonstrates yet again why he should be a much bigger star, and despite his (relatively) minor role he gets to kick ass Jason Bourne style.

The problem is the building of the solid story and hints at genetically enhanced children (the stuff of sci-fi and superhero films) feels tonally at odds with the long periods of the film in which not a lot happens bar some rather stagnant character development, and for the amount of time we spend getting to know people you will likely either end up bored (as with Hanna herself) or annoyed (the throroughly middle class English family that takes Hanna in). The most interesting character here are the villains, Blanchett has proven she does a good line in creepy villains before but excels here using the little she has to work with to prove truly menacing, likewise Tom Hollander whose character comes from the stereotypical gay/eccentric/unusual hitman rulebook but he really has fun with it, though again it jars with the rest of the film and feels layered in adding little to the overall narrative.

Usually this clash in styles isn’t that problematic as one tends to over-ride the other and end up all the more memorable for it, but it takes a director well established in one or the other. Wright has a great eye for visuals and knows how to tell a story, his back catalogue of Pride and Prejudice, Atonement and the wildly under-rated The Soloist have proven as much, but wielding out-and-out thriller material seems to have evaded him in terms of moulding something that is a visually stimulating, character driven thriller. In patches yes there is a great deal of promise, the opening set amidst snowy woodland and a clutch of punchy action scenes are well-directed, set to a soundtrack by The Chemical Brothers that brings the same level of thrills as Daft Punk did for Tron: Legacy or Trent Reznor with The Social Network, the tension is ratcheted up and you begin to feel immersed…and then it stops as soon as it has begun.

This sudden bout of violence/action syndrome (stopping as soon as it started) has afflicted many a film lately, film-makers claiming it bring a level of realism. Fair enough I say in a drama, social realism, boxing films, as with anything it works in the right context but here it is simply misjudged and kills any tension with the long un-involving sections stymying the drive, and in a supposed “thriller’ the first and foremost thing needed is drive, a sense of danger and of urgency. Saoirse Ronan as the central protagonist also fails to help and just can’t convince, and in these times of hard-ass teen girls such as Hitgirl in Kick-Ass your heroine needs to make her mark, if the focus had stayed on the central idea this could quite easily have happened, and would have ironically allowed for a more layered character.

VERDICT

Hanna has a plot that holds a lot of promise for a tight an involving thriller is bungled by a director who seems an odd fit, Wright directs the all too infrequent action with flair and a punchy urgency but swamps it all in a totally misjudged, and rather dull, indie tinged character segments.

Starring: Paul Giamatti, Amy Ryan, Jeffrey Tambor, Bobby Cannavale, Burt Young, Melanie Lynskey

Director: Thomas McCarthy

Writer(s): Tom McCarthy, Joe Tiboni

Cinematography: Oliver Bokelberg

Original Score: Lyle Workman

Running Time: 106 Mins.

Starring: Paul Giamatti, Amy Ryan, Jeffrey Tambor, Bobby Cannavale, Burt Young, Melanie Lynskey

Director: Thomas McCarthy

Writer(s): Tom McCarthy, Joe Tiboni

Cinematography: Oliver Bokelberg

Original Score: Lyle Workman

Running Time: 106 Mins.

Thomas McCarthy is a director who thus far has stuck to a formula, it is a formula that works for his films as they are the kind of film that favours character over story though never at the expense of an involving one that comes from said characters. His first film, The Station Agent had Peter Dinklage as a man who was afforded a great deal of screen-time to give the audience a fully rounded man, all elements were explored be it for good or bad, then into this mans life came a selection of (often eccentric) friends, or soon to be friends. So why would we expect a change in tactic from such a tried and tested plot (it garnered Richard Jenkins an Oscar nod forThe Visitor), which means that this time we have perpetual hangdog and all round great actor Paul Giamatti, stepping up to play another put upon man who has good intentions but has a tendency to let “life” get the better of him.

This,  like The Visitor and The Station Agent before it, is not a film for everyone, that isn’t to say it is particularly taboo breaking but rather it plods very closely to that fine line of “indie comedy”, of which Juno and Little Miss Sunshine purportedly stand tall amongst. The key here is character and that characters quirks, of which bring about the films driving force (plight). Here Giamatti is Mike Flaherty, a failing lawyer who only works cases to help people out and, in his spare time, coaches a wrestling team with buddies Stephen and Terry (Cannavale and Tambor). By way of a fluke Mike comes into some money in attempting to aid a senile pensioner, and this is where it becomes complicated…Mike and his wife end up taking in a troubled teen (is there any other type) who is said man’s grandson.

So the wheels are set in motion for Mike to bond with teen Kyle who, it turns out, has something of a skill for wrestling…and whaddya know the men bond and rediscover themselves. Okay so it isnt all that twee and stymied, McCarthy knows his material too well, he nows how to coax a great turn from all of his cast. Some elements do shout “mainstream Hollywood comedy” more than the director may have like but to in an effort to provide sufficient laughs in balancing out the drama you need the eccentric support characters (Cannavale and Tambor). Thankfully both of them are great, and as is yet another skill of the director, having the kind of easy chemistry that Giamatti shared with Hayden Church in Sideways. Similarly the family dynamic is very well handled, Amy Ryan is a believable spouse for Mike and the scenes of the two of them together are fun and dramatic in equal weighting.

Sadly the great actors can’t mask a slightly jarring tone, the eccentric friend characters are something you can get over but the film veers wildly from some really hard hitting and touching issues to some rather silly jokes that seem below the talents of the cast and crew. As the finale looms the drama is naturally ramped up and allows the actor playing Ryan to shine (reminding me of a young Edward Furlong circa. American History X) but by this stage too many subplots have been thrown into the ring, as it were, with varying degrees of success. Had we just stuck with Mike and the a more simple narrative that allowed him to bond with family and friends without too much in the complication this could well have matched McCarthy’s previous efforts, as it stands we just have yet another Comedy Drama purporting to be “indie” with a heart of gold at its centre by way of the ever reliable Giamatti.

VERDICT

Win Win isn’t quite up to the directors usual standards as he strives for something a little more mainstream, both failing that crowd and distancing his usual followers. Never-the-less it has its moments and the great cast over-ride the overly complex dramatic thrust.

Starring: Johnny Depp, Penelope Cruz, Geoffrey Rush, Ian McShane, Stephen Graham, Gemma Ward, Judi Dench, Kevin McNally, Richard Griffiths, Keith Richards

Director: Rob Marshall

Writer(s): Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio

Cinematography: Dariusz Wolski

Original Score: Hans Zimmer

Running Time: 137 Mins.

For those of you who had bid farewell to the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise…more fool you, for as much of a critical dud the third film (and to a lesser extent the second) was it was still that years biggest money-maker and a producer wouldn’t let a little thing like a critical slating get in his way. So it transpires that here we have the fourth installment of said franchise, many presumed the chance was being taken to strip away the clogged up and mess of a narrative that plagued parts 2 and 3, meaning less characters, more of the interesting characters and a more streamlined stand-alone plot that allowed for some great action set pieces, enjoyable characters and some macabre humour. All this was expected especially in the face of the film sourcing it’s plot from a novel, On Stranger Tides, concerning the hunt for the fabled Fountain of Youth (mentioned at the close of part 3).

So the pieces were in place, fat was trimmed from the cast including Knightley and Bloom, while Depp himself promised a return to the heyday of Curse of the Black Pearl, mermaids and zombies were added to the mix and most excitingly Ian McShane was cast as Blackbeard, the pirate all pirates fear. Shame then that all of this is squandered in the face of a film that had promised so much and delivers very little. The main issue here is scripting, Elliott and Rossio return using Tim Powers novel as a starting point, however what could have been a thrilling race to the fountain of youth is given the flabbiest treatment possible, three parties race to the fountain, the spanish who could quite easily have been dropped altogether, the king’s men led by a turn-coat Barbossa and Blackbeard who, it has been prophesised will die in two weeks by a man with a peg-leg (also Barbossa). Add to this the fact that the fountain can’t simply be drunk from, the competitors must retrieve a mermaid’s tear (!!!) and two chalices.

If this sounds convoluted, it is, though that’s not the problem, the problem is the apparent need to have so many characters, so many scenarios, so many relationships that none are afforded the time to grow. Some ideas are great, others awful, I’ll start with the good (out of good-will for the franchise). Blackbeard, a great character, fantastic introduction, and a perfect coup of casting in McShane, thing is he is totally wasted after the introduction, there’s the idea he may be into voodoo and has zombie crew members but none of it rivals Davy Jones or the cursed crew of the Pearl, it is here that budget cuts become apparent. In trying to up the fantasy element stakes film by film the best we have here is a ship controlled by its captain’s sword, a neat trick and used well once but from then on it is never used again, dropped in favour of yet another plot strand and yet more half-baked ideas.

Another sub-plot (if you can even class it as such) is that of the missionary and the mermaid, again a strand that could have been spun out into many interesting directions but is once more squandered in a handful of scenes, we learn little of each character and the character development is nigh on non-existent, not because of the actors but once again with the script that rushes to jump into the next mim-scenario adding nothing but more muddied waters to the overall plot-thrust. Speaking of mermaids, they provide the one standout action scene, re-imagined as devilish creatures  they ambush Blackbeard’s crew at his behest and are truly menacing, something which makes a love story with one all the more improbable and complex…but this film isn’t concerned by that!

So the action scenes are plentiful as ever and romp along at a pace that helps ease the overlong running time (again), Barbossa is good fun and hams it up as well as ever while Depp steps out of the shadows as something of a hero, a nice little twist in the tail, I for one think he is in his stride with the character though many bemoan he is phoning it in I simply cannot see it, as for Cruz she wasn’t nearly as irritating as expected, though is also given little to do bar act as a love interest. While I’m talking about shadows it would seem an appropriate time to mention how the fact that 80% of the film happens at night or in a very dark place makes watching it in 3D incomprehensible, despite belong shot utilising 3D cameras there really is no call for it when all you’re going to do it poke a sword out of the screen every so often, new director Rob Marshall (of Chicago and Nine fame) brings little flair to proceedings and clearly hasn’t the panache to imagine a world in 3D as James Cameron et al. do.

So while it lacks Gore Verbinski more macabre leanings, this would seem to be the least of the franchises issues, a real jolt is needed if the audiences are expected to continue flocking in their droves. For the little goodwill I have for watching the same mess of events re-enacted while adding yet another fantastical and pointless element is running thinner by the film, yes there will likely be worse films this summer and no it’s not a total disaster (that would make it easy to write off), and at times it shows a great deal of promise but as was suggested last time they really do need to trim the fat!

VERDICT

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides had the potential to be a streamlined, fun adventure that recaptured the spirit of the franchise at its best. Sadly it flounders amidst a mess of plotting that bungles something that really should have been idiot proof, the magic is there but only in the briefest of flashes with anything good being frittered away as soon as it’s introduced in favour of the next half-baked idea.

Starring: Topher Grace, Anna Faris, Dan Fogler, Teresa Palmer, Chris Pratt, Michael Biehn, Jenie Hackett, Lucy Punch, Michelle Trachtenberg

Director: Michael Dowse

Writer(s): Topher Grace, Jackie Filgo, Jeff Filgo

Cinematography: Terry Stacey

Original Score: Trevor Horn

Running Time: 97 Mins.

Right let’s get the obvious out of the way, firstly I am indeed a sucker for 80’s set films, particularly given the rather good clutch that have seen the light of day in the last few years with Adventureland being the standout, secondly I also have a soft spot for coming of age comedies that have a very clear message (usually about “finding yourself”), a message which is set as an undercurrent for great performances, it is this combination that made Adventureland a winner in my book so how pleased I was to see a possibility for something cut from very similar cloth in Take Me Home Tonight, even if it does star the usually underwhelming Topher Grace.

Thankfully I can safely say Grace is a casting coup, given he also co-write I’ve no doubt it was a role that may have drawn on personal experience but was definitely written with the actor in mind. Given the story sees his character, Matt Franklin, as man who is wasting his potential working in a video store and is capable of so much more the parallels speak for themselves, Grace was great in That 70’s Show but has wasted his fine comic ability and genuinely likeable personality in totally miscast roles such as stinkers like Predators and Spiderman 3 it is great to see him back on comfortable ground and back at his most likeable since In Good Company, a similarly great coming of age tale.

While Take Me Home Tonight has at it’s centre a character/actor who is as likeable as Jesse Eisenberg was in Adventureland the film itself doesn’t quite have that films level of pathos, though the laughs are much broader tipping it closer in tone to last years Hot Tub Time Machine, where HTTM failed was in the overt 80’s parody that veered from spoof to cringeworthy on a frequent basis. No such problem here, as the setting is largely unimportant other than for the pathos it adds for 80’s kids like myself, of those that are fans of that oh so tacky of times, the iconic traits are all present and correct but not hammered home of used for cheap seen-it-all-before gags, witness the opening credits that show us everything 80’s from Alf the Alien to Reagan and the dancing Sultana’s, references that will raise a big grin for those who recognise them safe in the nowledge that the youth of today will be oblivious to such charms.

Surface enjoyment aside it is in the story that the film really wins plaudits, set over one night (naturally), twins Matt and Wendy (Faris, not gurning for a change) with tubby best friend Barry set out for a party with the guys having the sole intention of pulling, so far so American Pie/Road Trip etc., but there is a sweetness and heart that raises Take Me Home Tonight above mere entertainment, harking back to 80’s classics such as Fast Times At Ridgement High and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off the belly laughs are balanced with sweet, but not sickly, moments. Helping in this is Teresa Palmer as the figure of Matt’s longtime crush, a presence with the looks to match her personality she brings the same level of likeability here as she did in The Sorcerers Apprentice.

Add to these elements, which slot together perfectly, is a very funny turn by Dan Fogler, yes he takes blow, yes he gets drunk, yes he has a dance-off and yes he is there for Matt when he needs him, but as expected and predictable as his characters actions are it is all done so well that it feels nothing but fresh, indeed a mantra that can be applied to the entire endeavour.

VERDICT

Take Me Home Tonight sets its stool somewhere between Adventureland and Hot Tub Time Machine (the better bits), though it falls between the two in terms of overall quality I can’t critisize such a winning, funny and memorable film that surely warrants many a repeat viewing if only for us 80’s nostalgia nuts.

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