It’s Thanksgiving. You and the family have just finished your meal. And you want some lighter fare, suffering from the tryptophan buffet you just willingly engorged yourself with. The kids are off playing on their tablets. The game is over, and the adults need a swift 80 minute distraction before tearing into pumpkin pie and cobbler. Why not check out one of Netflix’s looked-over gems from the past few months. It’s the perfect little slice of desert before the desert. Don’t spend hours searching the queue, arguing over what you’re going to watch. Just select Take Me and go!
Take Me, while not a Netflix Original (it is only “Presented By Netflix”), is a home run for all the parties concerned. This whimsical tale of a simulated kidnapping gone very, very wrong is probably the first film to truly pull off this motif since 1986’s Ruthless People or 1988’s A Fish Called Wanda. Take Me stars Taylor Schilling (who became famous playing the lead in Netflix’s breakout drama Orange is the New Black) and Pat Healy as two people dropped into a situation in which each has a different idea of why they’ve met. This slapstick tale hits all the right notes from beginning to end, and then it caps everything off by creating some notes of its own. Of all the recent Netflix offerings, Take Me is by far the cream of the crop.
Ray Moody (Pat Healy) has a business in which he abducts people who actually pay to be taken. In his business model he holds his “victims” for 8 hours and then everybody goes back to their normal lives. Things get dicey when one “victim” named Anna (Taylor Schilling) asks to be kidnapped. Normally, a kidnapping of this sort would be a slam dunk for the erstwhile Ray. The problem comes when Ray is offered more money to keep her for the entire weekend. As we all know, nothing is ever that easy and soon enough, Ray and Anna discover that their shared situation is a lot more complicated than they realized.
Executive produced by Jay and Mark Duplass, Take Me feels like it’s certainly a distant cousin to their mumblecore world. While the look and feel of Take Me is clearly more polished than a film like The Puffy Chair or Baghead, the tone and dialogue are quick cutting in a way that recall those latter films. The difference in the look and feel is most likely attributed to the sure-handed, almost Woody Allenesque direction from Pat Healy. Having both starred in and directed this vehicle, he plays the part of Ray Moody to perfection. He portrays the part of an “abductor” who is in over his head with a hilarious bumbling quality. All of this works to great effect whether he is trying to fix a situation, or merely keep his head above water as the situation overtakes him.
Playing a perfect foil for Healy’s Moody is Taylor Schilling as Anna. Schilling has always played the role of Piper Chapman on Orange Is the New Black with an effortlessness that seems downright scary. Take Me shows a little bit of this but there is a different kind of nuance. We get to see Schilling chew the scenery more. She seems like she is able to spread her wings as she isn’t playing the “dandelion” in a prison milieu. Her and Healy are the perfect foils for one another as they do their comedic dance during the “abduction.” One wonders how these two might fair in a drama directed by the likes Derek Cianfrance (The Place Beyond the Pines) or Nicolas Winding Refn (Drive).
Adding to the whole mix is that, while Pat Healy did direct in and star in this film (from a terrifically crafted screenplay by Mike Makowsky), he obviously got something of an assist from the Duplass brothers. As I mentioned, Jay and Mark Duplass both serve as executive producers on this project and it shows. Now, I can’t say for sure, but I am willing to wager that the Duplass brothers did some work on the screenplay. I am not saying that they did a massive rewrite or anything. However, I would not be surprised if Pat Healy got extensive notes both on the screenplay and on various edits of the film.
It is for all of these reasons that Take Me just works. It works in tone, it works in presentation and it works in plot and on character levels. Netflix has really cashed in their promissory note with this film. Fans of such movies as The Hateful Eight and 9 to 5 will find themselves quite pleased at everything Take Me has managed to achieve. You can watch the movie right now on Netflix.