Film Review: Take Me Home Tonight

Take Me Home Tonight is a loving homage to eighties teen films. It may not be the smartest or funniest films of the year so far, but it is definitely one of the cutest.

It’s the late 1980s and MIT graduate Matt Franklin is having a life crisis, having given up a well-paid job to work in a video store. When he finds out his high school crush Tori is back in town and attending a Labor Day party that evening. Along with his twin sister Wendy and his recently-fired best friend Barry, Matt attends the party hoping to win the affections of the girl of his dreams…

Take Me Home Tonight is an unpretentious movie that keeps its intentions simple. The movie should be funnier given that it is a comedy. Whilst there is humour to be found, some of the jokes do fall flat. Nevertheless, Take Me Home Tonight works because the central character is lovable and the romantic angle is well executed.

Matt Franklin is given surprising depth, considering the superficial nature of the film. The protagonist is endearing, yet at times frustrating. Matt’s lack of confidence is underscored throughout the movie; some of his exchanges with Tori are truly cringeworthy. Due to this shyness, the film provides the audience with a hero they can really root for. There is a genuine hope that the flawed but affable Matt will get the girl.

Take Me Home Tonight was made a few years ago; it is surprising that it took so long to get released. Perhaps the film was buoyed by the success of last year’s Hot Tub Time Machine, which offered a similar style of 80s nostalgia. Although there are fewer in-jokes, Take Me Home Tonight is an unapologetic homage to teen movies of this decade. The importance of the one social event harks back to films such as Pretty in Pink and Say Anything. The action takes place over the course of a day, reminiscent of others from the John Hughes oeuvre that feature a similarly short time frame, Some Kind of Wonderful and The Breakfast Club for example.

Topher Grace really carries the film with his very genuine portrayal as Matt. Elsewhere, Dan Fogler is makes a fun comedy sidekick as Barry, while Teresa Palmer fulfils her limited brief well as beauty Tori. Anna Faris is slightly less convincing as Cambridge hopeful Wendy.

With its fantastic (and seemingly non-stop) soundtrack of eighties tunes, Take Me Home Tonight is a film for those who revel in nostalgia. It’s almost a film that wonders what has happened to all those John Hughes characters after high school. Not an amazing film, nonetheless Take Me Home Tonight should serve its audience well.

Film Review: Yogi Bear

An inoffensive live-action feature of the beloved Hanna-Barbera cartoon, Yogi Bear is sure to satisfy the young audience it is intended for. Older cinemagoers would be wise to view it as the harmless fluff it is.

Jellystone Park is due to celebrate its 100th anniversary, but Yogi Bear and his sidekick Boo Boo are more interested in stealing picnic baskets, as usual. When Mayor Brown threatens to close Jellystone, Ranger Smith enlists the help of Yogi and Boo Boo, as well as zoologist Rachel…

The premise of Yogi Bear is fairly standard; most of what occurs is predictable family movie fare. Nevertheless, the pacing is good, and with a sprightly running time of eighty minutes, the film is just the ticket. Although there are some very apparent messages, the tone of the film never becomes heavy.

Much of the humour will appeal to younger audience members, although there are some jokes that have a wider appeal. Yogi Bear does not seem to have the emphasis on entertaining adults as well as children, unlike Toy Story 3 or Megamind, for example. Notwithstanding, the light entertainment the film offers is certainly watchable for an older audience, even though is more amusing than hilarious. Furthermore, Yogi Bear makes references to 2001: A Space Odyssey and Superman, which are probably lost on younger viewers.

At its heart, Yogi Bear is unequivocal in the messages it sends. Characters are predominantly painted in contrasting colours. Mayor Brown is greedy and not enterprising, while Ranger Smith is honest and endearing. Yogi Bear promotes environmentalism over capitalism; unabashedly depicting those in power as corrupt, and elevating green issues above financial gain. However, Yogi Bear does not appear overly political in this endeavour; rather the film provides young viewers with a strong moral to the story.

The CGI effects used to create Yogi and Boo-Boo look decent in 3D. The characters are very detailed, particularly in the contours of their fur. Although the two appear natural in their surroundings, at some points it is clear that the actors are performing with green screen. The 3D is employed with gimmicky effect, functioning in much the same way as its use in The Final Destination or My Bloody Valentine.

Dan Aykroyd and Justin Timberlake sound appropriate as Yogi and Boo Boo. Nonetheless, they are parts that could have been given to any unknown voice actors; it is unclear what they bring to a feature such as Yogi Bear. Anna Faris brings her usual quirkiness as Rachel, while Tom Cavanagh is uninspired as Ranger Smith.

Yogi Bear is an entertaining film, but one that clearly has young children in mind. Although it is unlikely to be classed as one of the year’s best films, it is nevertheless an enjoyable eighty-minute watch.