Win a Date With Tad Hamilton
directed by Robert Luketic
(DreamWorks, 2004)

Win a Date With Tad Hamilton is the second directorial effort from Robert Luketic, who made his debut with Legally Blonde. Kate Bosworth is Rosalie Futch, a small-town supermarket checker from West Virginia who enters a contest and wins a dream date with Hollywood movie star Tad Hamilton, played by soap star Josh Duhamel. When Tad falls for Rosie and moves to her town, her best friend and coworker Pete, played by Topher Grace, is motivated to finally reveal his own long-standing secret love for her, setting up the classic triangle, as last seen in Sweet Home Alabama.

This is a formulaic cliched fairy tale of the highest order, so much so that the movie almost seems to luxuriate in its formulaic cliches, underlined by the final shot when "The End" appears on the screen. As long as you're not looking for anything new, different or groundbreaking, Win a Date With Tad Hamilton is great fun. Bosworth is so impossibly sweet, wholesome and good looking as Rosie that although she is supposedly a "nobody," she shines way brighter than her star suitor. Bosworth alone is reason enough to see this picture, more than fulfilling the potential suggested by her debut starring role in Blue Crush. Duhamel is totally believable as Tad, with a dead-on portrayal of the self-absorbed movie star stereotype. Grace overacts the part of the hometown guy somewhat, but who in their right mind wouldn't do likewise facing the prospect of losing Bosworth to some Hollywood phony?

Nathan Lane and Sean Hayes are both very funny as Tad's agent and manager, respectively, both characters humorously named Richard Levy. Ginnifer Goodwin turns in another excellent supporting performance as Cathy Feely, Rosalie's other best friend and supermarket coworker. Goodwin did a similarly superb job as a Wellesley student in Mona Lisa Smile, only to see Kirsten Dunst, Julia Stiles and Maggie Gyllenhaal get all the press for their similar roles. Perhaps her resemblance to Thora Birch (Ghost World) confuses the audience; I thought sure I was watching Birch in Mona Lisa Smile until I noticed that her name did not appear in the credits -- these talented actresses could almost pass for twin sisters.

Some of the scenes are set to music and play like music videos, but the soundtrack music is generally high quality, dominated by artists from Sony's one-step-ahead-of-the-curve Aware label, and for the most part the music is a welcome element that amplifies the moment. In one humorous sequence, the despairing Pete is driving his car and gets nothing but songs about lost love on every radio station he punches up. This isn't rocket science, but it is good moviemaking, and for good mindless escapist entertainment, you will not regret taking a date to see Win a Date With Tad Hamilton.

- Rambles
written by William Kates
published 31 January 2004

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