> Volume 6 > Number 01


Robert Luketic

Kate Bosworth
Topher Grace
Josh Duhamel
Nathan Lane
Sean Hayes
Gary Cole
Gennifer Goodwin

Release: 23 Jan. 04

Win a Date with Tad Hamilton!


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 character.

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

©2004, David Perry,, 2 January 2004