I am an unashamed fan of retro zeitgeist movies, I love Ferris Bueller, Can’t Hardly Wait, Reality Bites etc so I was very excited to hear that this film was getting made. All the elements were in place – a coolish cast including (Chris)Topher Grace, Dan Folger, Anna Faris (Yay!) and Teresa Palmer. Set in 1987 and about what happens a few years after everyone has left high school and they all gather again at a huge house party – there’s prime real estate here to dive in for some sentimental, retro gags and storylines. But instead of diving in to really have a good crack at it (which it tries to at the start) what you really wind up with is an extended and intermittently funny double episode of ‘That 70’s Show’ only set in the 80’s and with more swearing.
Topher Grace, who co-wrote and executive produced the film, has no differentiation in character from this to Predators, Spider-Man 3 or That 70’s Show. He has one character – a neurotic, paranoid geeky wit boy – he plays it well and proves its the only thing he knows how to be (Geeky guy always loved the high school prom queen but never had the guts to do anything about it). The only difference here is he swears a bit more. Dan Folger is clutzy and vulgar enough as the “Jonah Hill” Superbad sidekick and Anna Faris is criminally underused in what has to be the most dynamic of all the subplots in the film (Her characters choice to move in with her boyfriend or accept an overseas study position).
The film tanked in the U.S. and was released direct to home entertainment here and as much as the story is a bit of a letdown there are moments of gold: Anna Faris’ reaction when she is read a letter (it’s only 5 seconds but it justifies why I love her) is a prime example. Teresa Palmer holding her own throughout – she does radiate in this. And then there is the soundtrack – this is the films master stroke – check out this list:
1. Video Killed The Radio Star – The Buggles
2. The Fredricking – Matt & Tori
3. Hungry Like The Wolf – Duran Duran
4. Situation – Yaz
5. That’s What I’m Talking About – Kyle
6. Kickstart My Heart – Mötley Crüe
7. Barry’s Advice – Matt & Barry
8. Straight Outta Compton [Explicit] – N.W.A.
9. Bette Davis Eyes – Kim Carnes
10. Meeting Trish Anderson – Barry
11. Safety Dance – Men Without Hats
12. Rocket Surgeon – Wendy & Kyle
13. Come On Eileen – Dexys Midnight Runners
14. Oh Sherrie – That Loser That Always Shows Up At The Party With A Guitar
15. Everybody Have Fun Tonight – Wang Chung
16. Let My Love Open The Door – Pete Townshend
17. Can I Call You? – Matt & Tori
18. Live Is Life – Opus
19. Don’t You Want Me – Atomic Tom
If you love the 80’s like I do and want to get a fix of hits then check it out.