About Features Reviews Community Screenings Archives Home
January 2004

By Julian Roman
Distributor: Dreamworks SKG
Directed by: Robert Luketic
Producers: Lucy Fisher, Douglas Wick
Screenwriter: Victor Levin
Composer: Ed Shearmur
Cast: Kate Bosworth, Josh Duhamel, Topher Grace, Ginnifer Goodwin, Sean Hayes, & Nathan Lane 

I must be living in a parallel universe. I’ve seen two teen romantic comedies in a row and liked them both. Maybe there is a Santa Claus after all. I can’t tell you how much I thought I would despise this movie. I’m pleased to report that it actually doesn’t suck and is an entertaining, sweet film. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fairly cliché and predictable, but succeeds in areas that are vitally important to have a good film. The story is well written and the actors do a fantastic job of playing their characters. That’s the nuts and bolts of filmmaking. If you’ve got those two things going for you, then it’s likely that the movie will be good. Win a Date with Tad Hamilton is disarmingly good. Teenage girls all over are going to get their money’s worth. 

Kate Bosworth plays small-town Virginia girl Rosalee Futch. She works at the local supermarket (the Piggly Wiggly) with her two best friends, Pete Monash (Topher Grace) and Cathy Freely (Ginnifer Goodwin). Pete is also the manager and a good one at that. The Piggly Wiggly higher-ups have been itching to send him to a bigger store in Richmond. His unrequited love for Rosalee is the only thing holding him back. Rosalee and Cathy are complete fanatics of hunky Hollywood star Tad Hamilton (Josh Duhamel). They drag Pete to see his movies and spend their lunch breaks extolling his virtues. Fortunes change when Rosalee wins a contest that gets her a date with the matinee idol. The contest is actually a gimmick by Tad’s agents (Nathan Lane and Sean Hayes) to drum up some good publicity. Tad has some pictures of him driving drunk and fondling a supermodel plastered all over the tabloids. They need some good press to win Tad a coveted leading role in a blockbuster movie. Warning her about protecting her virtue, Pete watches as Rosalee goes to LA for the big date. Tad, who’s expecting an ugly country girl, is quite shocked by how beautiful Rosalee is. She captivates him even more when she turns down his attempts to sleep with her. Rosalee of course is smitten, but not easy. She goes back home blown away by the experience, but is even more surprised when Tad follows her. He’s fallen in love. Convinced that she can help him find himself and tame his destructive ways. Tad’s presence is of course the worst possible scenario for Pete. Now he has to compete with a movie star for the woman he loves. 

There is never any doubt to the outcome of the film. The shocker is that the story is funny, sweet, and fairly clever. Here is where the screenwriters went right. They made Tad Hamilton a legitimate character that is really in love with Rosalee. He’s got his issues, but is not a bad guy and has honest motives. Obviously the audience roots for Pete, but Tad is every woman’s dream come true, right down to the Brad Pitt-esque six pack. I kept waiting for some terrible thing to happen where we find out what a jerk Tad is. Doesn’t happen, Tad is out for Rosalee just as much as Pete is. I love the scene where Pete finally realizes that he can’t compete with Tad. Rosalee’s father gives him some straight dope on life, “Sometimes Goliath beats the s**t out of David. You never hear it because it’s not a good story”. That’s a great line and it amazes me that it’s from this movie. 

The characters are well portrayed by the actors. Kate Bosworth nails small town Rosalee. She’s a sweet girl, but not naïve or homely. I think Kate Bosworth is underrated. She torched the screen in Wonderland and follows it up with a potentially generic role. The fact that we buy her in this situation speaks volumes on talent. Topher Grace, Eric Forman from That 70’s Show, is by far the best part of this film. He’s kind of just playing Eric in Virginia, but is totally believable as the witty, hapless Pete. I think most actors fail when going for this kind of “Average Joe” character. Topher Grace pulls it off smoothly, a deft feat of a decent actor. I hope and pray that he starts gaining fame so Ashton Kutcher can get out of the spotlight. It’s a tie between him and Paris Hilton for the people I’m absolutely sick of seeing. Josh Duhamel gets a good character with Tad and doesn’t blow it. His scenes in LA and Virginia are very satirical and humorous. He holds his own with Kate Bosworth, making their romance quite believable. 

I think that this film is a great date movie. Women will love it and guys will be able to laugh at it. They pour on the melodrama pretty thick in the end, but that’s expected. In fact, the last shot of the film is a smart send-up of a stereotypical romantic comedy ending. I’d be curious to see what the numbers are, but I’d bet good word of mouth will make this film a hit. Then we’d have Win Another Date with Tad Hamilton in two years. I’m not sure I can handle that.