Win a Date with Tad
Dan Lybarger, 23 January 2004
Viewing Win a Date with Tad
Hamilton! is about like watching a marginally talented relative
in a school play. It's foolish to expect Tony Award caliber results,
but you feel at least some pleasure in seeing the cast and crew get
through the process without any glaring slipups. You might be able
to count genuine highlights on the fingers of one hand, but they are
Australian director Robert Luketic
(Legally Blonde) appears to be aiming for modest goals and
generally meets them. There are light chuckles throughout but
nothing that couldn't have been accomplished in the 30-minute
sitcoms that screenwriter Victor Levin (Mad About You)
usually pens or leading man Topher Grace (That 70s Show)
usually stars in.
Grace plays Pete, a grocery store
clerk from Fraziers Bottom, West Virginia who can't understand why
Rosalee Futch, the woman he's been pining for all his life, is so
enamored with film star Tad Hamilton (Josh Duhamel) and his sappy,
The fellow that Rosalee and her
amorous pal Cathy (Ginnifer Goodwin, Mona Lisa Smile) pine
after is a much different person when the cameras aren't rolling. A
spoiled partier who's constantly endangering his wholesome façade,
Tad has to change his act in order keep working.
At the behest of his beleaguered
handlers (Nathan Lane and Shawn Hayes), Tad agrees to take a lucky
fan on a date for a charity. Needless to say, Rosalee wins.
At this point, giggles do come
despite the fact that the script appears to be written on tracing
paper: guessing how the film will go takes no effort. Helping
enormously is Grace's delightfully low-key take on Pete. When he
nervously warns Rosalee to guard her "carnal treasure" during her
time with Tad, it's his frustrated expression, not the line that
gets the laugh.
From here, the film takes a mildly
interesting turn when Tad actually falls for Rosalee and the
seemingly uncluttered lifestyle she embodies. He actually moves to
her hometown and buys a house. This doesn't make Pete's unrequited
affection for her any less painful. To their credit, Duhamel,
Luketic and Levin avoid the obvious fish-out-of-water clichés (Tad
takes surprisingly well to his new surroundings).
Still, it might have been nice if
Luketic and Levin had come up with enough comic business to properly
fill the length. Bosworth is suitably earnest, but it might have
been more interesting if the more colorful Goodwin had been cast as
Rosalee or if Levin had awarded Cathy the date.
The mild satire that runs
throughout Win a Date with Tad Hamilton! sometimes works, but
for the most part doesn't have anything to say about small town life
or Tinseltown follies that hasn't been said better by say, oh, Billy
Wilder or maybe even Jay Leno on a rare good night.
It's a shame that the material
reach up to the performers' level of talent. Win a Date with Tad
Hamilton! isn't as lame as most January releases, but it's
hardly a dream date.