An old-fashioned comedy geared towards teens, "Win a Date With Tad Hamilton!" didn't connect with audiences earlier this year, but this lightweight comedy deserved a bit more of a following. The picture is certainly no classic, but there's a few appealing performances, clever gags and occasional moments of sharply funny dialogue.
The picture stars Kate Bosworth ("Blue Crush") as Rosalee Futch, a small-town West Virginia cashier smitten with movie star Tad Hamilton (Josh Duhamel of TV's "Las Vegas"). When Hamilton's agents decide that his days of wine and women are over, they come up with a contest idea where one winner will be flown out to go on a date with the actor. Watching from the sidelines is her co-worker, Pete Monash (Topher Grace), who's never told Rosalee his feelings about her.
While the date goes well, there's something about the pure, West Virginia goodness of Rosalee that appeals to Tad, prompting him to purchase a place in her small town and spark a war between him and Pete over Rosalee. Standard romantic comedy fare, but played well.
The film's performances go a fairly long way in pushing the film past the fact that most will feel as if they've seen some variation of this story a thousand times. Grace (of "That 70's Show") amps up his usual delivery and timing, resulting in some terrifically funny moments - as Rosalee walks towards the plane, Pete yells, "Guard your carnal treasure!". Not the funniest line, but the awkward way that Grace spits it out is hilarious. I greatly enjoyed Bosworth in "Blue Crush", where she portrayed that character with a great deal of determination and heart. Here, her small town character is sweet and genuine, topped off with Bosworth's charm and smile. Duhamel, who's been god playing against James Caan on TV's "Las Vegas", offers a fine performance here. Gary Cole is funny in a limited role as Rosalee's dad, while Nathan Lane and Sean Hayes play Hamilton's agents.
The performances aren't bad, but there's a series of minor concerns that threaten to derail "Tad Hamilton" at times. The biggest issue is the the chemistry between Duhamel and Bosworth and Bosworth and Grace. Grace's performance, maybe wisely, seems less concerned with Bosworth's character and more with trying to hit every one of his lines out of the park. Duhamel and Bosworth's characters never seem to form that much of a connection or have any shared interests. Simply, I never really believed any of these characters were falling for one another out of any reason aside from the plot says that they should.
The film's pacing is somewhat lackluster, as director Robert Luketic ("Legally Blonde") gets fine performances out of the actors, but keeps the pace slack and never builds much urgency. This is a rare romantic comedy where I wasn't entirely sure of who the female character would end up with, but that still didn't add any more tension to the proceedings. The picture attempts to play off the differences between Rosalee's West Virginia lifestyle and LA in one sequence where she views lemonade being sold for $9 a glass as she's being driven down the street, but there's
"Win a Date With Tad Hamilton!" is a nice, sweet little movie with a few big laughs, fine performances and charm. The picture never quite lifts off into something too remarkable though, as characters could have been developed more and some script issues ironed out.
VIDEO: Dreamworks presents "Tad Hamilton" in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. The picture quality is simply satisfactory; while aspects of the film look great, I was a little surprised to see some noticable issues. For a movie that was only recently released in theaters, I wasn't expecting to see some noticable specks/marks on the print in a few scenes. Some minor edge enhancement and compression artifacts were also spotted.
Sharpness and detail in the image often seemed quite good, although some interior scenes could look slightly soft. The film's bright, vivid color palette looked fine, however, appearing well-saturated and vibrant, with no smearing or other issues. Black level looked solid.
SOUND: "Tad Hamilton"'s Dolby Digital 5.1 presentation is rather ordinary - there's a stray sound effect from the surrounds once or twice, but the picture's focus is in the front speakers. The score does sound dynamic and full-bodied from the front speakers though, and dialogue remained clean.
EXTRAS: 15 deleted scenes are the main supplement, and they include some business with Paris Hilton that was ultimately cut from the picture. We also get bios, production notes, sneak peek trailers for other Dreamworks titles and a moderately funny gag reel.
Final Thoughts: There's some core issues that keep "Tad Hamilton" from being something more, but it's a likable movie that does have very good performances and a few hilarious moments throughout. Dreamworks has provided a fine DVD, with respectable audio/video quality and a set of minor supplements. Recommended as a rental.
The Film ***