Fresh out of MIT, Matt Franklin (Topher Grace) is back in hometown Los Angeles, waiting for his future to clarify itself while he loiters behind the counter at Suncoast Video, hawking VHS copies of Harry and the Hendersons because it's, like, totally 1988. Inspiration comes when Matt re-encounters his unrequited high-school crush, Tori (Teresa Palmer), whom he follows to an end-of-summer house party, accompanied by twin sister Wendy (Anna Faris, squandered) and best friend Barry (Dan Fogler), an aspirant Gordon Gekko of peasant stock, newly unemployed, unstable, and determined to make up in one binge for missed college experience. Scripted by That '70s Show writers Jackie and Jeff Filgo, Take Me Home Tonight opens with a geyser of decade signifiers and moves to a playlist of instantly recognizable DJ cues. The vintage accoutrements are purely art-department concerns; pop-culture identification doesn't interact in any meaningful way with the story, revealing neither character nor social milieu. Grace, with his alert small-dog anxiety, is an adept light-comedy lead and makes a handsome couple with Palmer, her fine-boned face under a towering hair-spray forelock. Unfortunately, the throwback trappings include the formulaic conflict in Matt and Tori's courtship. Don't lie about your job to the girl you like, fellas—you always have to 'fess up at the end of the second act.
Grace is selling VHS tapes! Because it's the '80s! Funny, right?
Opens at Metro and other theaters, Fri., March 4. Rated R. 97 minutes.