DVD Review: Take Me Home Tonight

'Take Me Home Tonight' Is Not Just Out to Get Drunk and Find an Easy Hookup

"Five years after the cessation of That ‘70s Show, its cast is still making their careers chronicling the stupid things we do when we’re young. This year, that’s often taken the form of entering into ill-advised, pure-sex relationships with formerly platonic friends of the opposite gender. (I’m looking at you, No Strings Attached‘s Ashton Kutcher and Friends with Benefits’ Mila Kunis.) Leave it to Topher Grace, the one who always seemed like the deepest of the bunch, to make the movie where the main character laments the follies of his youth without getting to have any fun at all.

His 2011 movie, Take Me Home Tonight, also comes with a richer tradition of young-adult cinema behind it. The events of the film take place within one 24-hour period, putting it in the same vein as all-in-one-crazy-night movies such as American Graffiti, Dazed and Confused, and Superbad. Its ‘80s time period and focus on its characters’ feelings makes John Hughes an obvious touchstone. And focusing in particular on a protagonist who can’t figure out what to do with the rest of his life puts it right alongside The Graduate. It’s as if director Michael Dowse set out to remake Sixteen Candles starring Lloyd Dobler"

"Even though all of the pieces are there, Take Me Home Tonight remains as a good example of another film in the ‘80s-nostalgic, all-in-one-night, John Hughes-esque genre without ever becoming something greater. It’s happy to follow along in the footsteps of its inspirations without ever really transcending them. (Even the soundtrack choices, which kick off with “Video Killed the Radio Star,” are pretty typical.) The character of Matt’s best friend, Barry (Dan Fogler), for example, seems more obligatory than compelling. Recently fired, Barry is off in his own subplot where he tries coke for the first time and finds himself enduring a series of increasingly ridiculous sexual adventures. His exaggerated portion of the film, not as thoughtful as the rest, seems like a calculated grab for Harold and Kumar fans."

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August Issue: In Every Issue

Culture, Etc.
Guster, Steve Earle, Trollhunter, and more.

"It’s August, and, to paraphrase Gershwin, the livin’ should be easy—and the music should be, too. Guster understands, and the band’s most recent album, the aptly named Easy Wonderful, provides just the kind of poppy, no-fuss music that’s best for those days when it’s too hot to think. It inspired Entertainment Weekly to write, 'There’s something happily uncomplicated—and at times proudly uncool—about this band’s sixth album.' Hear for yourself when Guster plays an outdoor concert at the Ives Concert Park in Danbury, Connecticut, on August 3."

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Home Theater & Broadway Box Office
Paul, Jane Eyre, Your Highness, and Cul-De-Sac, plus an interview with Altar Boyz director Carlos Encinias.

"Who is your favorite boy band?

I’d have to say it’s a tie between *NSYNC and the New Kids on the Block. The New Kids on the Block was my first concert, but I say that I was just taking my sister and it wasn’t really for me. That’s my line."

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Guster photo by Floto+Warner Studio

Time Out New York: NY Movie Shoots

For the "Insider's Guide," a round-up of films and TV shows filming in New York City.

Movie and TV productions filming in NYC


"Boardwalk Empire
Films through:
August 31
Starring: Steve Buscemi, Kelly Macdonald, Michael Pitt, Michael Shannon
Spotted in: Greenpoint
Look for: New Jersey. The production team built a 300-foot-long replica of the Prohibition-era Atlantic City boardwalk for the HBO series. The set is roughly 80 percent to scale, is made of approximately 150 tons of steel and is probably the largest freestanding outdoor set in New York.
"

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DVD Review: Rango

'Rango': The Itchy, the Thirsty and the Ugly

"Rango is an all-out Western, and it’s made first and foremost for an audience that’s nostalgic for movies like High Noon and Once Upon a Time in the West. The film proves over and over again that, given the choice between pleasing a child and getting a smile from a grown-up spaghetti-Western fan, it’ll go for the latter every time, be it through classic Western compositions (the hero riding against a sunset—only it’s a lizard on a road runner) or an over-the-head reference to a beloved film (as well as nods to non-Westerns like Singin’ in the Rain, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Raising Arizona, and Chinatown, among others).

If there’s an immediate indication of the film’s intentions, it’s the designs of the characters. They are not child-pleasing. Production designer Mark ‘Crash’ McCreery emphasized what was least cute about Dirt’s denizens—Rango’s bulging asymmetrical eyes, Mayor’s weathered turtle skin—and then added a layer of dirt, grime, dust, and general grunginess for good measure. At one point in the Blu-Ray’s commentary—which is, no pun intended, pretty dry—one of the filmmakers remarked that he wished he could pop out one of the characters’ eyeballs and give it a good scrubbing, that’s how dingy it looked. Watching Rango can make you itchy and thirsty."

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Movie Review: Submarine

'Submarine': A Bit of an Affectation

"As neat as these storylines might seem on the surface, however, Richard Ayoade’s film runs into some trouble deciding on a format. A mishmash of structures, Submarine is divided into three 'chapters,' suggesting a book. At one point, Oliver imagines that his life is the subject of a news report, with a broadcaster live on the scene interviewing his family and classmates. At another, he describes a two-week period as being committed to the 'Super 8 of memory,' segueing into a montage of grainy footage, and in yet another, he uses language that conjures lush, cinematic, feature film moments. We’re lucky that the film, adapted from the novel by Joe Dunthorne, takes place in the 1980s, or we’d also have to sit through Oliver’s Facebook posts and FaceTime chats."

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June Issue: In Every Issue

June Highlights
Ani DiFranco, Brian Wilson, Peter Frampton, surrealist art, and more.

Home Theater
True Grit, The Adjustment Bureau, Kiss Me Deadly, and The Lord of the Rings Trilogy: Extended Edition Blu-Ray

"The work of sci-fi writer Philip K. Dick has been adapted into some of the greatest science fiction movies of all time, including Blade Runner and Minority Report. (Okay, there are some not-so-great ones in there, too, like Next and Paycheck.) His short story, “Adjustment Team,” became The Adjustment Bureau, in which a politician, played by Matt Damon, rails against a fedora-wearing cabal that secretly controls the paths of everyone on Earth. Fans of Mad Men’s Roger Sterling can spot John Slattery under one of those fedoras."

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Film Review: An Invisible Sign

'An Invisible Sign': Math Problems

"An Invisible Sign begins as 10-year-old Mona Gray (Bailee Madison) watches her father (John Shea) experience a mental breakdown. From that moment on, he suffers from a pervasive by undiagnosed mental illness. Unable to understand it, she relies on two divergent coping mechanisms. Even as she retreats into the logical, highly controlled world of numbers and mathematics, she also gives herself over to extreme magical thinking. The combination makes the film into something of a math problem itself, as it shows how the father’s illness exponentially affects his daughter."

Read the rest of the review at PopMatters.  

May Issue: Summer Movie Preview

Summer Cinema

A preview of summer movies.

"July Superhero of the Month:
Captain America: The First Avenger (July 22)

Captain America is a superhero in that he has super strength and speed, but he still can only do things that humans can do. (No flying, no regeneration, no invisibility, no godlike powers, and no talking to fish.) All around, he’s a more accessible comic-book character, and this film shows his origins as a wannabe WWII soldier. Perhaps what’s most relatable about him is his youthful ideals.

Cowboys & Aliens (July 29)
The title says it all. There are cowboys. They cross paths with aliens. It’s sci-fi mixed with the Wild West, and Han Solo himself—excuse us, we mean Harrison Ford—is in charge of saving Earth from invasion. It sounds just like our kind of hootenanny.

Also Consider: The only thing that trumps cowboys and aliens on the summer-movie spectrum is a brigade of awesome robots, and Transformers: Dark of the Moon (7/1) can get you your fix. If you’ve been too cooped up inside your office to see any movies, live vicariously through the stars of Horrible Bosses (7/8), who hatch a plan to murder their, well, horrible bosses. Speaking of offices, if you can’t fathom what Steve Carell will do outside of The Office, try his new movie Crazy, Stupid, Love (7/29), directed by the team that did I Love You, Phillip Morris last year. Clutch your tissues: the Harry Potter saga will finally come to close forever with the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part Two (7/15). If you need something kinder and gentler to get you over the loss of Harry Potter, Disney is releasing a new feature-length installment in the life of Winnie the Pooh (7/15)."

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Thor photo by Zade Rosenthal/Marvel Studios © 2011 MVLFFLLC. TM & © 2011 Marvel; Bridesmaids photo by Suzanne Hanover. © 2011 Universal Studios; Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides photo by Peter Mountain ©Disney Enterprises, Inc.; Tree of Life Photo by Merie Wallace; Green Lantern photo by Francois Duhamel. TM & © DC Comics


Blu-Ray Review: AI

A.I.: Artificial Intelligence

"Since its release, A.I.: Artificial Intelligence has been much like its protagonist, David. Both are considered replacements for something that looks far rosier in memory. And, as a result, both have been scorned and have to work harder to find love in this world.

Much of this has to do with the history of A.I. The story finds its origins with 'Supertoys Last All Summer Long', a 1969 short story by Brian Aldiss. Stanley Kubrick first started adapting this story for film, but unfortunately died before he could see it through to completion. As an homage to his friend, Steven Spielberg picked up the project and finished it based on both his conversations with Kubrick and using Kubrick’s copious notes and illustrations.

How much this actually changed Kubrick’s intent for A.I., the film version, will never be known, but the switch from Kubrick to Spielberg forms the basis for almost every criticism of the film. In 'Creating A.I.', one of the features on the new Blu-Ray edition of the film, Spielberg insists that it was Kubrick’s intention to have Spielberg direct from very early in the process. Whether that fact is forgotten, intentionally ignored, or disbelieved, it hasn’t stopped the wave of complaints: Spielberg is too treacly and sentimental for the material, Kubrick would have made it darker, the final film is too close to Spielberg’s other movies (Close Encounters of the Third Kind and E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial in particular) and, most emphatically, the ending was a tacked-on mistake to give the whole thing a happier ending.

Whether or not those arguments have merit—and, concerning the last one, Spielberg often claims in interviews that he only delivered on Kubrick’s blueprint for an ending—so much about A.I. has to be ignored to have those criticisms create the lasting impression of the film."

Read the rest of the review at PopMatters.com.