Win a Date with Tad Hamilton!
review by 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 there.

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, sweet films.

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.

Directed by:
Robert Luketic

Kate Bosworth
Topher Grace
Josh Duhamel
Nathan Lane
Sean Hayes
Gary Cole
Ginnifer Goodwin
Octavia Spencer
Amy Smart
Wendy Worthington
Stephen Tobolowsky
Moon Bloodgood
Mary Jo Smith
Joe Convery
Deena Dill
Bob Glouberman
Sam Pancake
Jay Underwood
Patrick O'Brien
Todd Eckert
Marshall Goodman
Peter Iovino
Alex A. Kvassay

Written by:
Victor Levin

PG-13 - Parents
Strongly Cautioned.
Some material may
be in appropriate
for children under 13.






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