Editor's Note: It is the policy of this website to never bestow more than three stars on any film with the word "Tad" in the title, but in the spirit of experimentation, we present this review from a smitten Pete Croatto anyway.
I always groan when I read articles in movie magazines and websites touting some nubile, perky, twentysomething starlet as "the next big thing." Typically, I'm a little hesitant to believe that, because all the designation usually means is that said actress will launch millions of erections. It also gives the false impression that Kirsten Dunst, Natalie Portman, and Reese Witherspoon are all vying for the female lead in The Gin Game.
Jessica Alba is a classic case of these articles getting out of hand. As a ferociously heterosexual 26-year-old, it's all too easy for me to slip out of my critic's veneer when I see her. The major problem is that onscreen all I can focus on is her dazzling smile, chestnut skin, and toned abs.
But after seeing and enjoying Win a Date with Tad Hamilton!, I am pleased to announce that Kate Bosworth (Blue Crush, The Rules of Attraction) is worthy of the press coverage. Let's hope she stays a while, because unlike the average pretty face, she's the real deal.
In Tad, Bosworth plays Rosalee, a cashier at the Piggly Wiggly in Bottoms Creek, W. Va., where there isn't much to do except go to the movies and drink at the local tavern. At both of these locales, Rosie spends time with her sex-on-the-brain co-worker, Cathy (Ginnifer Godwin) and her sarcastic best friend, Pete (Topher Grace, from the always steady sitcom That '70s Show).
At the theater, movie star Tad Hamilton (Josh Duhamel) is another guest, much to the swooning delight of Rosie and Cathy, but the endless chagrin of Pete. Then fate intervenes. Tad, who is on a social path similar to Colin Farrell, holds a contest to help restore his nice guy image. One lucky contestant, with a $100 donation to his favorite charity, will get the chance for a Hollywood date with Tad.
Wouldn't you know it: Rosalee wins the contest. And wouldn't you know it: Rosaelee makes such an impression with her lack of pretension and abundance of class that Tad decides to hop a plane to West Virginia and hang out with her. He hopes that "her goodness" will rub off on him. Pete, who is harboring a major crush on Rosalee, puts it a little more tactfully, "He wants your ass to rub off on him!"
Bosworth makes this plot completely believable, because she's so at ease on screen. You forget that she's a photographer's dream and buy into the character and the love triangle. She doesn't overplay anything, a trap that Victor Levin's smart script occasionally encounters: Just watch any scene with scenery chewers Nathan Lane and Sean Hayes as Tad's PR help. Bosworth's performance here is reminiscent of Julia Roberts' turn in Pretty Woman, where charisma, talent, and pure likeability converged. That happens with the frequency of comets.
This is not to say that Bosworth is the only reason to watch, not by a long shot. Grace lends his Ginsu-sharp sarcasm to great effect, but also finds the time to show a sensitive side that is both refreshing and sincere. Duhamel, currently starring on the NBC hit Las Vegas, does everything right as Tad. He doesn't act like a villain or a hero, but just a guy living with a condition: He's perfect.
Of course, it helps to have Robert Luketic, the man behind Legally Blonde, at the helm. Luketic is quickly becoming adept at making bright and bubbly comedies for intelligent people. Like Legally Blonde, which had sorority girl Witherspoon succeeding at Harvard Law School, Luketic loves to flip around stereotypes whether it be about country girls -- Rosalee is probably the most self-aware character in the movie -- or movie stars. Tad has a redemptive, thoughtful side. He just doesn't know how to use it.
I have a feeling Win a Date with Tad Hamilton! is going to be a hit, because its charm, humor and wisdom sneak up on you. That's something audiences should eat up, which should lead to more Kate Bosworth features. These, however, I won't mind reading.
When the ketchup comes out, then it's a date.