There can be no denying that life gets progressively worse once you graduate from college. And, if you didn't go to college, then I guess life gets progressively worse after high school. It has nothing to do with "peaking" or losing social relevance so much as it has to do with losing that constant feeling of believing your future can take any path you want it to. Not to mention losing the highly desirable schedule of drinking until four in the morning and waking up at around one to make it to your first class of the day. All of this being said, Take Me Home Tonight explores the very grim realizations that all of us are forced to acknowledge around the age of twenty-three.
Commencing in 1984, right after Matt Franklin (Topher Grace) has graduated from MIT, Take Me Home Tonight is basically Can't Hardly Wait meets Less Than Zero. Although Matt is highly intelligent, with numerous career options to choose from, his sole obsession is with the girl he worshipped in high school, Tori Frederking (Teresa Palmer). So disillusioned by selecting a course of action after college, Matt has moved back to Los Angeles where he works as a cashier at Suncoast Video. His best friend, Barry (Dan Fogler), works at a car dealership (most likely in the Valley) and his sister, Wendy (Anna Faris), has saddled herself with a meathead of a boyfriend named Kyle (Chris Pratt). Both of them serve as examples that only further accent to Matt that it is better to make no decisions than decide on a dead end.
When Tori waltzes into Suncoast Video one August day, with Duran Duran's "Hungry Like the Wolf" playing in the background, Matt darts out of the back exit and pretends to walk into the store as though he is a customer, casually striking up a conversation with her--trying his best to act like he does not remember her. As Tori reveals how well her life is going in the wake of graduating, Matt cannot resist the inclination to lie about his profession, offering that he works at Goldman-Sachs (kicking off a running joke throughout the movie that everyone knows there is no Goldman-Sachs office in L.A.). Tori politely receives the information and tells him he should go to Kyle's annual Labor Day party that night.
Matt quickly sets a plan in motion to project the best possible image at the party so that he can finally win the girl of his dreams. Luckily for him, Barry has just been fired from his job and is willing to steal a car from the lot so that Matt can appear as successful as he claims. As they peel out, "Straight Outta Compton" blasts over the sound of the alarm going off in the building, then, suddenly, Matt and Barry sing it as though the song is on the radio in the car rather than on the film soundtrack (an impossibility considering this song was not released until 1988).
When Matt and Barry arrive at the party, they find that little has changed since high school in terms of their social status. Barry, who found a stash of cocaine in the stolen car, takes to the bathroom for refuge as Matt grapples to have a meaningful talk with Tori. The sequence of events that follows is typical of any party set in the Los Angeles of the 80s: Dancefloor hijinks, trampoline fucking, driving semi-intoxicated to Beverly Hills, and ending up with someone from the party you never would have expected.
In keeping with the general theme of most movies that came out in the decade of excess (70% of which seemed to have John Hughes' name credited somewhere), Take Me Home Tonight espouses the notion that we're all fucked up and none of us have any idea what the fuck we're doing half the time. The difference is, at least back then they had the novelty of Madonna's Like A Virgin album being released. And P.S. I still can't figure out why this movie is called Take Me Home Tonight, because that song didn't come out until 1986. Oh well, just another instance of shoddy script supervision.