March, 2011

Take Me Home Tonight: The New Film of OUR Generation?

If John Hughes was alive, I think he would ask for a piece of the profit. There’s nothing in Michael Dowse’s new comedy that doesn’t scream out John Hughes. Not necessarily a rip-off of the classic 80’s rom-com’s like Pretty in Pink and The Breakfast Club, but more of a reflection on them. Adults in their 40’s could easily get past the flat story line of boy-likes-girl, girl-doesn’t-notice and enjoy a trip down memory lane supported with a blast of 80’s music. And teens of this generation could appreciate what life was like before parties turned into dry-humping on the dance floor. But there is much more to the story, it’s just hidden under the thousands of layers of hairspray and popped collars.
The movie centers around a recent M.I.T graduate named Matt Franklin (Topher Grace) who, simply put it, has absolutely no idea what we wants to do with his life. He is still living at home with his parents and twin sister Wendy (Anna Faris), who is ironically the complete opposite of him: She’s mature, independent to some extent, awaiting a response from grad school and, unbeknownst to her, about to be engaged.
As far as his parents, mainly his father, are concerned, Matt has massive potential but has thrown away his college career and now is stuck working a dead end job at Suncoast Videos (the Blockbuster of it’s time for kids who didn’t know that.)
Matt lives a quiet, mild-mannered life with zero ambitions in reflection to his hard drinking, take-life-by-the-horns best friend Barry Nathan (Dan Fogler) who becomes the antagonist of the movie. Barry decides it time for Matt to become a man and finally confess his love for his high-school crush, Tori Fredreking (Teresa Palmer), who he met early in the day at his job. From there one, the night begins.
Since recently being fired from his job as a car salesman, Barry seeks revenge on his employer by stealing a car from the show room. The car is just one part in an elaborate game Matt must keep playing during the night in order to impress Tori. He told her earlier that he works for Goldman Sachs. But things don’t go according to plan. It’ll come back to haunt them later. They steal the car and race to a famed Labor Day party in the neighborhood thrown annually by Wendy’s boyfriend Kyle Masterson (Chris Pratt, who in real life is now married to Anna Faris.)
The party scene’s have no real meaning to the overall story line but it conveys most of the movies humor, practically for Barry: an epic dance battle endures between Barry and an unnamed break dancer, Barry tries Cocaine for the first time (hilarity guaranteed) and Barry has a three-some with an overpowering women and a creepy voyeur.
The real depth of the movie lies within the dialogue and therein lays my idea that this movie has, in my opinion, come to define our generation.
Although no one can understand why Matt, an M.I.T graduate, has not grown into the accomplished man he should be, his point is clear. Tori confesses to Matt that on the outside she looks as if she loves her job but on the inside she hates it and now realizes that her time has passed; she’s stuck. This plays into Matt’s defense because he fears exactly what Tori is going through: that he will wake up one day and hate the life he lives, hence his indecisive behavior.
This movie is a manifesto of the present-day teenager. Our society has made it almost impossible for a teenager, or even a college graduate, to succeed on their own. Back in the 80’s it was quite customary for a child to be out of the house and fending for themselves by the age of 19. Now, you’re lucky to see children out of the house and own there own by age 25.
Our crippling economy and high priced living has caused this generation to give birth to what Sociologist call “adult children.” Adults who, in their everyday life, have jobs, money, independence, and yet, still live at home under the guidance and support of their parents.
It is somehow the metaphorical job of the parent to make sure their child’s life turns out better then there’s. If children see at such early ages the struggles that their parents must endure in there day to day activities, it is only going to make them more self-conscious about the job path they want to take when it’s their turn to bat. In return, these action make it that much harder for young adults to make a firm decision and what they want to do in their life.
I’m not saying that it’s okay to grow up and become that “adult child,” I just feel like our generation has so many problems ahead of it that to force us out there is only going to make it worse. Let us enjoy our time as dimwitted teenagers and young adults. Let us try everything and anything that we deem interesting and let us figure out what we want our lives to be like.
Here in lies the climax of Take Me Home Tonight. It all still has to do with the stolen car (told you it would come back to haunt them.) Matt and Barry find themselves stuck in a ditch with their stolen car. The cops show up, revealing one to be Matt’s father. Matt’s father shows him some tough love and intentionally does damage to the stolen car, adding insult to injury. Words are exchanged and Matt’s true feelings towards his father are finally said: Matt is sorry for not doing anything with his life and for becoming, in his father’s eyes, “a failure.” But Matt’s father doesn’t believe his son is a failure because he hasn’t tried anything that he could fail at and Matt’s father deliver’s the moral of the story then and there: just aim! Aim for anything. Shoot for anything. It doesn’t matter what you hit as long as you tried to succeed in something.
Despite its obvious story line, the movie was definitely a fresh take for a new generation. The characters were not giving complicated emotional backgrounds or hardships to hurdle over which benefited the free-spirited comedic styles of Grace, Faris, and Fogler. Like me, if there are teenagers out there facing these same problems, this movie speaks to you. This is your time. “Put a little relish on your hotdog.” But beneath all the jokes and beneath all of the terrible 80’s style lies a message that we teenagers need to get into our heads quickly: JUST TRY!

The Red and the White: A plot done to death the world over!

The Red and The White is a 1968 Russian film directed by Miklos Jancso. Dedicated to the 15th anniversary of the October Revolution, the film tells the story of a group of Hungarian Communist, the Reds, which aid the Bolsheviks’ in defeating the Czarists, or the Whites.
Its moderate scenery and, somewhat dismal plot, or no plot rather, seems customary for the time frame it was set in, but given the high octane cinema our generation has been subjected to, this movie feel flat on its face.

The movie took a too realistic approach to the hardships of the Russian Civil War. It’s a plot that has been done to death the world over: Civil unrest and the good guys come in to help out and end up sacrificing themselves in the end for the greater good.

Although not a fan of realism in cinema (I feel that cinema is a chance to escape the real world. We go to the movies to be amazed at the “what if’s” of life and things that aren’t of the everyday), the realistic approach did work in its favor. It gave the movie some, but not a lot of depth. The film’s final scene has such passion and grit in it that I feel if done over the top, with explosions, rapid jump cuts, crazy gun fire, the scene would have lost its meaning. “War seems chaotic and arbitrary” and to show it in its simplest of forms was sheer brilliance but it didn’t make up for the other 85 minutes of the film.

If anyone wants to watch a realistic approach to a war torn nation, I recommend seeing 2007’s Atonement before seeing The Red and The White.

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