Who's In It: Topher Grace, Teresa Palmer, Anna Faris, Dan Fogler, Chris Pratt, Demetri Martin, Michael Ian Black, Michelle Trachtenberg, Lucy Punch
The Basics: Over the course of One Crazy Night, an aimless MIT graduate (Grace) whose biggest real life problem is figuring how what he wants to do with his degree from a fancy university, lies his way into the arms of his secret high school crush (Palmer). Along the way he has to deal with a cocaine-snorting, car-stealing, zany best friend (Fogler, occasionally funny), he has to convince his twin sister (Faris) not to marry the doofus/jerk (Pratt) she's dating and, somehow, find his true direction. Lucky for him he's a fictional character because that means one of his potential life choices won't involve wasting his time or money watching this rotten movie.
What's The Deal: Pick an '80s movie. Pick any '80s movie. Anything by John Hughes. Just One of the Guys. My Tutor. Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Better Off Dead.. Something starring one or both of the Coreys. Then go watch that movie instead. Because any one of them, or even something much worse like Johnny Be Good, will give you a more authentically '80s experience and more laughs. This one wants to be an homage, a nostalgia trip and a sweetly innocent post-adolescent fairy tale. It's none of that. If I could cue 14-year-old Moon Unit Zappa to shout "Grody to the max!" right now, I would.
The Shermer Anti-Defamation League Meeting Will Now Come To Order: It's a throwaway gag, the fact that these young people all attended the fictitious "Shermer High School." But it's offensive anyway. Shermer is the fake town that was the setting for John Hughes's beloved teen comedies. And while this movie's heart might be in the right place, its lack of understanding about the kind of characters Hughes championed is fatal to its sense of self. With just a couple of facial expressions in the early moments of Sixteen Candles, Molly Ringwald got you to root for her dorky problems. No one bothered to write or direct anyone here to that kind of empathetic performance, and the only consistently funny person on screen is Demetri Martin in a small role as a wheelchair-bound smart-ass. That takes about three minutes of screen time out of 115. Moral: Parachute pants and Wang Chung are not enough.
There's Always Someone Somewhere With A Big Nose Who Knows: Period films need for someone to pay attention to detail. Someone thorough. Someone who won't budge. This is especially true for movies set in the recent past. Because while you might be able to get away with playing fast and loose with styles and cultural signifiers in a movie set in the 19th century, it's annoying to witness a fake 1988 where every single major silly fashion choice and novelty pop song from over the course of an entire decade gets distractingly trotted out in a messy heap like a greatest hits montage. It feels like the production designers, music coordinators and costumers probably did their homework and then got railroaded by executives who complained that it wasn't "'80s enough." So congratulations movie, you time-warped yourself from 1980 to 1990 in one night.