WIN A DATE WITH TAD HAMILTON!, by Robert Luketic, the director of the
sparklingly original LEGALLY BLONDE but not its miserable sequel, is a
wonderfully sweet romantic comedy. When we first meet actor Tad Hamilton (Josh
Duhamel), he's gotten his mug unflatteringly plastered on the front page of the
tabloids. Currently unemployed, Tad, the star of ACEY DEUCEY and the remake of
THE GRAPES OF WRATH, needs to repair his boy-next-door image. His agent
(Nathan Lane) points out that he's not unemployed like a dock worker but that
he's just between million dollar paychecks. The agent's solution is a
nationwide contest to win a date with Tad, every girl's dream guy.
A nice but shallow fellow, Tad likes to fall back on his old movies for lines
to use in conversation. As a gesture of friendliness, he tries to speak
Spanish to one of his maids, but she corrects him, pointing out that she is
Albanian and that he has his maids confused.
Meanwhile in Fraziers Bottom, West Virginia at a Piggly Wiggly grocery store,
two cashiers, Rosalee Futch (Kate Bosworth) and Cathy Feely (Ginnifer Goodwin),
are dreaming about the contest. You'll probably remember Bosworth as the
charismatic star of BLUE CRUSH, but you may not know Goodwin's name. Playing a
wallflower, Goodwin gave the only memorable and genuine performance in MONA
LISA SMILE. Rosalee is a giggly and supremely likeable character who has
innocence written all over her blonde ponytail. In contrast, her funny friend
Cathy is a salty lass who speaks like she has been reading way too many
bodice-rippers. Also at the store is Pete Monash (Topher Grace), the store's
award winning manager. Rosalee's lifelong friend, he worships the ground she
walks on but is way too shy to confess his love.
Rosalee wins the contest and has a quick but uneventful date with Tad in
Hollywood. "Doesn't it hurt smiling like that all of the time?" she asks him
during their photo op disguised as a dinner date. The trip out west gives the
movie some delicious opportunities to poke fun at California. Among several
great visuals are a kids' $9 lemonade stand and a dog safely strapped into a
child's car seat.
Up until this point, the script has mined humorous but completely predictable
ground. Once Rosalee leaves LaLaLand, the story takes a few nicely surprising
turns. The rest of the picture occurs back in rural West Virginia on Rosalee's
turf, where Tad shows up and wants to have her "goodness" rub off on him.
Surprisingly, he actually appears sincere. But could he really be?
Speaking of turf, Pete tries to pick a turf war with Tad, but, being a
130-pound weakling, he keeps coming off second best to the Hollywood hunk.
"He's from Malibu, California," Pete reminds Rosalee disgustedly. "The only
thing they grow there are breasts."
On the other hand, Rosalee's father (Gary Cole) is more than happy to have his
daughter date the rich and famous. When Tad picks her up for a date to the
local theater, her dad tells him with warm smile, "Have her home by dawn -- and
There are a few good smaller parts, but none better than Angelica (Kathryn
Hahn), a friendly bartender who loves Pete just like he loves Rosalee. She
gives him good advice at key moments, although what she really wants to give
him is a big kiss. I'll give you some advice. If you want a feel-good movie
that'll charm you and make you laugh, this is it.
WIN A DATE WITH TAD HAMILTON! runs 1:35. The film is rated PG-13 for "sexual
content, some drug references and language" and would be acceptable for kids
around 9 and up.
Copyright © 2004 Steve Rhodes