Win a Date With Tad Hamilton! Review
Rosalee Futch is your typical (in film, anyway) small-town girl. She works in the local supermarket and is friends with co-workers, Pete (Topher Grace) and Cathy (Ginnifer Goodwin) and watches films in the local small cinema. As many girls of her age, she also has a big crush on popular film star of the moment and standard Hollywood hunk, Tad Hamilton (Josh Duhamel). When Rosalee enters a competition to win a date with her screen idol, it leads to a series of events that give rise to this film. That's the basic premise for this tired teen rom-com. Directed by Robert Luketic (also responsible for Legally Blonde), you might think there was some hope for this film. Alas, I have to report that despite a solid and interesting cast, there's very little comedy, an extremely standard plot, and not all that much romance that holds any real emotion.
Tad Hamilton starts the film as a cardboard cut-out Hollywood idol; he's pretty, he's rich and he leads a playboy lifestyle of drinking and womanising (because of course in this kind of film drugs would be out of the question!). His management team, two guys both called Richard Levy (oh, how I laughed) and played by Sean Hayes and Nathan Lane, has to come up with something to improve his plummeting public image and decide to raffle off a date with the hunk for charity. When Rosalee wins, she has a fantastic date with the idol, and her inner goodness (and, erm, just all-round wonderfulness, apparently) leads Tad to consider abandoning the Hollywood lifestyle for a while to go back to his roots. Meanwhile, Rosalee's friend Pete is pining for her and is desperately jealous of Tad Hamilton… so when the two men get together there's some typical macho posturing which always leaves Tad on top and Pete looking pathetic. But we, the audience, know where true love is involved Pete still has a chance!
This film could have been a lot worse if it weren't for the cast. Kate Bosworth (Wonderland, The Rules of Attraction) is surprisingly engaging as the lead, and plays the doe-eyed small-town girl with aplomb. As her quirky, funny sidekick (because all sidekicks are quirky and funny), Ginnifer Goodwin (Mona Lisa Smile) turns in a really solid and likeable performance. Josh Duhamel (All My Children, Las Vegas) doesn't have to work too hard as Tad Hamilton, or maybe it's just an effortless performance for him – but there's not a huge range of acting prowess needed there. And Topher Grace, best known for That '70s Show, flexes his comedic talents with another witty and enjoyable performance here. The dream team of Nathan Lane (Mouse Hunt, The Birdcage) and Sean Hayes (Will and Grace) provide some much needed laughter here and seem to work very well together. I'd certainly not object to seeing them work together again sometime, as they don't get a lot of airtime in Win a Date with Tad Hamilton. The cast also work together well, which helps the film a lot – but the characterisation lets the actors down every time. I didn't find myself having much of an emotional commitment to any of the roles, and so I didn't care enough who the girl would end up with, or how the others' stories would play out.
When I first heard of the film it sounded quite encouraging to me (and yes, I do seem to watch a lot of teen films). People said that the 'twist' here was that the jerk Hollywood idol turned out to be a regular nice guy, where Pete was bitter and cynical. Promising in a rom-com, eh? But I just didn't find it panned out that way. Sure, Tad was nicer than expected, but he was still a jerk in the end, stealing others' words to in his attempts at romance. And so what if Pete is scrawny and un-macho and yes, cynical – at least when he shows emotions he means them. Disappointment then for me, as the rom-com formula remains unbroken here and despite solid performances and a good cast, I find there's little to make this film stand out in any way or to recommend it… except to fans of the various cast members, of course.
For recent films such as this, it's becoming increasingly difficult to judge the video quality as anything but solid and good. Not that that's a bad thing for the end consumer, but it can make the reviewing a little repetitive. Still, that being said – the picture here is presented in a 2.35:1 anamorphic transfer and it's good. The only real quibbles I had with it is that it could have been a little sharper at points, and there's the odd tiny hint of a grain. Overall though colours are strong and reproduced well and the film looks very good.
There are two audio options, Dolby Digital 5.1 in either English or German. The film relies a lot more on dialogue than on ambient or even background music, but almost all the sound action is confined to the front speakers. Occasionally music makes some use of other speakers, though. Dialogue is very clear throughout at least, and the soundtrack does its job without really standing out in any way.
Another of the things I've come to expect of recent discs, along with solid sound and video transfers, are decent extras. Unfortunately the extras on this DVD don't add a lot at all and actually reminded me of bits of the film I hadn't enjoyed the first time around. There's certainly nothing revolutionary here.
We're confronted with 21 minutes of deleted scenes, but they're nothing I think the film missed, to be honest – but that's not necessarily to do with the quality of the deleted scenes. There's a couple of fairly random clips of Paris Hilton which I'm frankly glad were deleted, but most of the others I found I didn't care much about one way or the other.
The gag reel (ah, the irony of the name!) lasts 8 minutes and contains the out-takes from the film. Most of them weren't all that funny, and there's a lot of face-pulling, but I did probably laugh or smile more during some of these than I had for entire sections of the film (especially the Nathan Lane and Sean Hayes clips). This would probably qualify as my favourite amongst the special features.
Finally, there's a photo gallery which displays pictures in the middle of the screen surround by a border that's supposed to make it look more like a teen's photo album. I remain unconvinced and a little bored by still shots, to be honest. But, if you're a huge fan of the actors in this film, then you'll get some enjoyment out of this special feature.
Described as a teen romantic comedy, Win a Date with Tad Hamilton can only honestly be said to be a teen film. The romance and the comedy are predictable and a bit tired, and only to be stomached by big fans of the genre, or of any of the fine cast involved in the production. The video and sound quality are solid in this DVD presentation, but honestly, it's hard to recommend the extras.