|Win a Date With Tad Hamilton!
2004 - PG-13 - 95 Mins.
|Director: Robert Luketic
|Producer: Lucy Fisher
|Written By: Victor Levin
|Starring: Topher Grace, Kate Bosworth, Josh Duhamel, Nathan Lane, Ginnifer Goodwin
|Review by: Harrison Cheung
In celebrity-crazed America – seemingly the only reason why the E! network exists and longtime fodder for shows like Entertainment Tonight et al for decades – ‘Win a Date With Tad Hamilton’ is a long overdue big screen spoof about Hollywood and the image machinery behind many actors.
You're sooooo dreamy!
From the director of ‘Legally Blonde’, ‘Win a Date’ is a light romantic comedy about a small-town girl Rosalee, (ironically played by LA-native Kate Bosworth) who wins a date with a teen idol, Tad Hamilton (soap opera star, Josh Duhamel) who is trying to clean up his image after he is outed by tabloids for being a drunk-driving-womanizer. Although the date is a dream come true, Rosalee is stunned when Tad follows her back to her hometown to woo her. The entire town is captivated to absurdity by having a real life movie star in their midst.
If this sounds like familiar territory, you might recall a similar premise in a biting episode of ‘The Simpsons’ when their resident-B-actor Troy McClure dates and marries Marge’s sister to improve his image. On Fox, you can also watch reality show 'The Simple Life' where celeb-for-no-particular-reason Paris Hilton finds herself in a small town, dealing with the locals. There was even a ‘Win a Date with Stony Curtis’ episode in ‘The Flintstones’!
If only ‘Win a Date’ was as wickedly written as a ‘Simpsons’ episode. Back home, Rosalee’s best friend, Peter (played by ‘That 70s Show’ Topher Grace), realizing that Rosalee is falling in love with Tad, openly pines for her and tries to show her that Hollywood types are phonies. The movie delivers some laughs as Peter desperately tries to one-up the hunky Tad in physical, intellectual and cultural competitions. Tad, of course, seems to be perfect. But, is he really in love with Rosalee or is this all a publicity stunt? And will Rosalee pick Tad over the skinny, scrawny, insecure, ticky Peter?
Topher Grace, expanding on his skinny, scrawny, insecure, ticky Eric Forman character in ‘That 70s Show’, demonstrates some great comic chops reminiscent of a young John Cusack. And at times, ‘Win a Date’ looks tailored made for Grace since the Tad Hamilton character is suspiciously similar to hunky, ex-model Ashton Kutcher who has emerged as the star of ‘That 70s Show’ and who himself spoofs 'celebrity' with his TV show ‘Punk’d’.
Josh Duhamel has the thankless role of playing the teen idol, Tad. Frankly, he’s not good looking nor charismatic enough to be a teen idol and, at age 31, he’s also long in tooth to be spoofing the 20-something Ashton Kutchers of Tinseltown. But Duhamel has a lot of fun making Tad alternate between being blatantly shallow and lovingly earnest – has this idol discovered true love in a small town girl?
And Kate Bosworth is very fresh-faced and delightful as Rosalee. Perhaps she’s read some fan letters or surfed a couple fan sites, but she conveys the thrill of meeting a celebrity with all the sparkle and enthusiasm one might expect of winning a date with say, Ashton Kutcher or Justin Timberlake.
Overall, ‘Win a Date With Tad Hamilton’ is good fun with a reasonable poke at Hollywood (well, as much as a poke as a major studio like Dreamworks would dare. ) It's as airy and good-natured as 'Legally Blonde' and just as predictable. And it’s about as critical of Hollywood as ‘Legally Blonde’ was about political commentary. Still, it's nice to see a movie project take a notch out of Hollywood and its effects outside its borders. Movie marketing is all about creating an audience. Though it could have been more biting, the movie delivers its message that the idol you worship might just have clay feet.