It’s a tribute to the 80’s teen comedy
, set in the latter part of that decade; it absolutely revels in those years, as the way-fun music video amid the extras attests. If not for its fresh-faced stars of today, the film could very well pass as a product of that era.
Having a hand as story creator and producer, Topher Grace (TV’s “That ’70s Show”) also fronts the film as Matt, an MIT grad now working at Suncoast Video at the mall because his heart’s just not in engineering. All it’s ever been into is Tori (Teresa Palmer, “I Am Number Four”), his unrequited high school crush.
When he runs into her on Labor Day weekend, he pretends to be a investment banker to impress her; it works enough to where she invites him to a party later that evening. And that kicks off one of those “one crazy night” scenarios in which nearly every ’80s teen comedy specialized: sex, drugs, rock ‘n’ roll and one effed-up expensive car, with a last-minute message to justify the debauchery.
The late John Hughes did that better than anyone, which must be why the characters are alums of Shermer High, the fictional educational institution his creations attended in such seminal works as “The Breakfast Club” and “Weird Science.”
Hughes also had big laughs, something “Tonight” lacks. It has many small ones, and many more smiles, but I’d call it fun rather than funny. Grace and company are likable, even when underutilized (Anna Faris as Matt’s twin) or stereotypical (Dan Fogler as the fat guy). Comedian Demetri Martin steals the show as a handicapped classmate with a grudge.
Despite one enormous plot hole you could drive a car through (and, oh, whaddaya know, it involves the car!), you can watch and enjoy “Tonight” as you reminisce about yesteryear … whether or not you ever boffed on a trampoline, engaged in a dance-off, were recruited for a coked-up threesome, sang along to “Straight Outta Compton” or just rolled down a hill in a giant ball. —Rod Lott