Release: 23 Jan. 04
|Win a Date with Tad Hamilton!
BY: DAVID PERRY
Simple, clichéd, and charming as hell, Win a Date with Tad
Hamilton! is a film openly unwilling to test any waters, which is exactly as
it should be. This is a movie that celebrates the type of plainness that
could be found in a secure 1940s lifestyle (however unrealistic this ideal
may be), a world before Entertainment Tonight and The National Enquirer.
This film is stuck in the same place as Sergeant York or The Pride of the
Yankees. The heroes and heroines are naïve, and the closest thing to
rowdiness is hinted by Robert Mitchum.
Tad Hamilton (Duhamel) is somewhere between Tab Hunter and Mitchum, though
his connection to the latter is limited only to his open subversions. In
actuality, he’s likely more like the celebrities of today (which is where
the film is awkwardly set, losing some of the ironic bite found in Down with
Love), but living in a world where his hedonistic lifestyle (e.g. Rock
Hudson, or, for a time, Mitchum) can be successfully obscured in the press
by a competition that would allow some chaste little lady to go on a date
with this cad (image a Win a Date with Rob Lowe! competition following the
1988 Democratic National Convention).
Paired with his minor competition to win the hand of small town girl Rosalee
Fitch (Bosworth), Hamilton walks all over the droopy-eyed grocery store
manager Pete (Grace). Although this premise could only end one way, director
Robert Luketic finds a way to make a cliché feel fresh, built in great part
on the nimble way Topher Grace attacks his completely unattractive
Little in Win a Date with Tad Hamilton! truly resonates, but this problem is
forgotten by the film’s wonderful final flourish. To some extent, I accept
this because the film’s aims are limited to emulation of a time long gone,
and that its successes are within these however restricted intentions. I
recommend this film marginally because it does what it means to do, even if
I wonder how much I should accept a film that aspires for so little.