Win a Date with Tad Hamilton! is a brisk, paint-by-the-numbers romantic comedy buoyed by the winning performances of Kate Bosworth and Topher Grace.
PG-13 for Sexual content, drug references, language
Tad Hamilton (Josh Duhamel, The Picture of Dorian Gray) is the kind of guy who makes women swoon. He’s a movie star, a stud pigeon-holed into love stories as the tender, caring, gorgeous hunk. Unfortunately, in real life Tad’s the bad boy next door in a very dysfunctional neighborhood: Hollywood.
With his latest blockbuster romance playing on the silver screen and his next film uncertain, Tad has fallen into a “between projects depression.” Crisis, courtesy of the tabloids, has entered the picture thanks to photos of this ideal lover drinking, smoking, smooching, and driving – all at the same time.
The studio honchos are carefully scoping out the romantic lead options for their next big love story and Tad’s reputation as a reckless playboy has put his candidacy in jeopardy.
Enter his callous agents, both named Richard Levy (Sean Hayes, Wi ll & Grace, and Nathan Lane, The Birdcage), who come up with a scam to get Tad back into Hollywood’s good graces: A charity fund-raiser/contest to give one lucky girl the chance to go on a dinner date with the dream boy.
Two Hearts Beat as One
The lucky girl who wins the contest is Rosalee Futch (Kate Bosworth, Blue Crush), a red-white-and-blue girl from Virginia working at the local Piggly Wiggly with her two closest friends, Pete Monash and Cathy Feely (Topher Grace and Ginnifer Goodwin, both from Mona Lisa Smile).
For better or worse, though, Pete’s hiding an enormous amount of love for the star-struck Rosalee. Potentially ruining Pete’s unspoken plans for a life lived happily-ever-after, Tad, so enamored by the sweetness of his date, buys a Virginia farm and vows to reevaluate what’s important in life.
So it is that the plot thickens, and the laughs come at a decent pace.
As directed by Robert Luketic (Legally Blonde), Win a Date with Tad Hamilton! moves along at a suitably breezy clip. Boom! The opening scene reveals Tad Hamilton: Movie Star. Boom! Crisis. Boom! Contest. Boom! We’ve got a winner…
In the past year alone, plenty of romantic comedies have kissed the silver screen, many of them starring Kate Hudson (How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, Alex & Emma, Le Divorce) and most of them offering nothing more than shameless, empty calories and faux amour.
This time around, even though some of the same old clichés return, the cast is so darn likeable and the story so amiable and inoffensive (it’s surprisingly wholesome, actually), that it’s hard not to get sucked into the escapade.
The Six Smiles of Rosalee
Adding some spice to the mix is the “wildcard” love interest, Angelica (Kathryn Hahn, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days). As a bartender, she’s used to consoling the lovelorn even as she finds herself getting trampled in the mix of Tad, Pete, and Rosalee.
Writer Victor Levin (Mad About You) gives Angelica some nice bits of wisdom to impart to the struggling Pete, including the motivational pearl that your odds improve the moment you hand in your application.
Levin also supplies Pete with some very witty dialogue and observations, perfectly delivered by Grace. Even Duhamel gives Tad the possibility of being something like a real person, a guy who actually might be afraid of living an empty life.
But the brightest star in this affair is Bosworth, who brings sweetness, strength, character, and a glow to Rosalee, a girl whose worst addiction is Pringles.
By basking in the glow of its stars and keeping a quick pace, the film is able to avoid the perils of over-analysis. It’s a slight, but agile, comedy that proves good guys, good girls, and good movies win in the end.