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Is Dan Fogler the new Curtis Armstrong?

Currently playing pudgy wingman to Topher Grace in 'Take Me Home Tonight,' Dan Fogler looks to be taking up the mantle of '80s loser sidekick Curtis Armstrong.

March 10, 2011|By Glenn Whipp, Special to the Los Angeles Times

Midway through watching the 1980s flashback comedy "Take Me Home Tonight," it hit us. Dan Fogler, Topher Grace's sidekick in the movie, has become this generation's Curtis Armstrong, the jowly, leering wingman to today's erstwhile young film leads.

And it wasn't just the period setting that drove the connection home. Or the physical resemblance — which is striking — though Fogler, perhaps, does have a couple more ticks on the waistband. It's that Fogler, like his '80s-era "Revenge of the Nerds" predecessor, excels in playing lovable losers desperately on the make, guys who are utterly unaware that they're at the bottom of the food chain. Or perhaps they're aware, but believe, as Armstrong memorably espouses as sidekick to Tom Cruise in "Risky Business," that, "Sometimes you just gotta say, 'what the ....'"

Still not with us? Take a look at how they line up.

APPEARANCE

Wide grin that easily turns into a leer when opposite sex enters room. Dark, curly hair. Permanent five o'clock shadow, which may also be his best attempt at growing a full beard. Attire ranges from geek chic in "Nerds" (dark shades, catchphrase tees) to a gray suit in "Risky Business." Natural predators include sun-bleached blond ski team captains, popular kids, Guido the Killer Pimp.

The same unkempt, dark, curly hair (what Seth Rogen would call a "Jewfro"). Facial hair much more out of control. Attire ranges from fanboy geek (rock band tees in "Balls of Fury," Imperial Storm Trooper gear in "Fanboys") to a gray suit in "Take Me Home Tonight." Natural predators include WASPs, women, a ping-pong-playing Christopher Walken.

WAY WITH A CATCHPHRASE

Supplies "Risky Business" with several variations of its emblematic motto ("If you can't say it, you can't do it"), makes costar Cusack look like a dull boy in "Better Off Dead." Earns bonus points for playing a character named Booger.

Has some catching up to do here. Memorably asks Seth Rogen's Trekkie in "Fanboys": "What's the Klingon for 'I'm going to die a virgin?'" Alas, he's outdone when Rogen replies in fluent Klingon. No memorable quotes in his latest, "Mars Needs Moms," but earns bonus points for playing a character named Gribble.

WAY WITH THE LADIES

Typically more talk than action. His "Risky Business" boast to Cruise ("The thing is, I don't have to pay for it") rings hollow the moment he takes a Hefner-esque smoking pipe out of his jacket.

Repeatedly attempts to score in "Fanboys" by approaching women and employing the same Jedi mind trick. ("You want to take your shirt off.") By "Take Me Home," he has graduated to using Sun Tzu's "The Art of War" as an opening gambit. This fails too, though he does improbably make out with Michelle Trachtenberg for reasons that can only be ascribed to her consumption of large quantities of alcohol.

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