Mon. May 16th, 2022

The New Year starts on a sweet note with “Win a Date with Tad Hamilton,” a breezy, uber featherweight concoction from Robert Luketic, the director of “Legally Blonde.” “Win a Date” almost revels in being no more than what it presents itself as: a predictable but pleasant romantic comedy that won’t be leaving anyone overly satisfied but goes down easy enough.Tad Hamilton (Josh Duhamel) is a popular actor who, among other things, is gaining praise for his remake of “The Grapes of Wrath.” He’s also cut like a Greek god, and has won the affection of women everywhere, including young Rosalee (Kate Bosworth), a supermarket clerk in a small midwestern town.

Tad seems to be riding high on his horse but runs into trouble when the tabloids catch him acting like an extreme party man one night. Fearful of having his “boy next door” image tarnished, Tad’s agents Richard Levy (played by Nathan Lane and Sean Hayes, who share the same character name) propose a dating contest in which some lucky girl will get to spend an evening with Tad. When the cameras catch sight of all the pleasantness, his image will be again restored and all will be well.

Back in Frazer’s Bottom, the giddy Rosalee eagerly enters the contest against the wishes of Phil, her bitterly sarcastic friend who secretly pines for her but is just too shy to admit his affections.

As luck would have it, Rosalee wins the contest and soon is flown off to California for her dream date. Tad, who is visibly irritated by the contest, is thrown off guard when he meets Rosalee, a sweet girl who’s obviously beautiful but represents the kind of grounded nature that Tad has been missing in life. Smitten by the date, Tad follows an unsuspecting Rosalee back to Frazer’s Bottom and attempts to win her over.

Meanwhile, Phil becomes jealous seeing the two together and proceeds to make attempts at ruining Tad’s credibility. The only problem is that he can’t find any flaws. Tad is seemingly perfect, and Phil’s chances at achieving Rosalee’s affection become slim, which leads to the typical romantic comedy showdown in which he will be forced to confess his secret.

Watching “Win a Date with Tad Hamilton” is a breezy experience. It seems to glide by and though the humor is not always effective, it does manage to have its share of sweet and romantic moments (look for the scene where Phil describes all of Rosalee’s smiles; cute stuff).

Luketic gives the film vibrancy similar to his breakout hit “Legally Blonde,” painting the film with bright colors and a peppy soundtrack, all of which manage to keep a quick pace that moves the proceedings along quite nicely.

Unfortunately, Luketic’s success with his cast is rather uneven this time around. Tad is presented fairly well, at least not in the one dimensional bad-guy-trying-to-steal-girl way, but as a slightly thickheaded fellow who wants something more in life.

Bosworth is quite attractive, but is considerably less successful. It’s hard to pinpoint what exactly is wrong with her performance, but there is something foul afoot. She is rather one note, consistently chipper the entire running time, and it tends to bore the viewer. It’s unfortunate that the film rests on Bosworth’s legs, but it does, and she doesn’t exactly pull it off as the lead.

Topher Grace, however, more than makes up for her in the role of the jealous friend Phil. Grace plays the part perfectly, despite being attributed some fairly poor dialogue. He manages to act with his body more often than not; jittering, stuttering, scowling, raising eyebrows, and it all looks very natural on screen.

For all the little shortcomings, “Tad Hamilton” really isn’t a bad flick. The experience is perhaps a bit too pleasant, which may be the problem. This material is a bit too safe, but it has its share of memorably cute moments.

So for those of you looking for a warm-hearted romantic comedy to ease away that bitter cold of January, “Tad Hamilton” will surely do the trick.

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