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Win a Date with Tad Hamilton
Released: 2004

Starring: Josh ?first movie for me? Duhamel; Nathan Lane; Sean Hayes (Jack on Will and Grace); Topher Grace (Eric on That 70s Show); Kate Bosworth; Ginnifer Goodwin, and Kathryn Hahn.

Directed by: Robert Lukitec (Legally Blonde)

Written by: Victor Levin

The Scoop

This hour and a half long, PG 13 rated, romantic comedy was aimed directly at a market made up mostly of 13 year old girls. While my mate is not a 13 year-old girl, she wanted to see it because it would (and I do quote) ?make her happy?. It did. In some ways it also made me feel good. I guess that was because, when it comes right down to it, this movie was so much better than I expected it to be.

Not that (go figure) I expected it to be much. I was dragged to this movie almost completely against my will. In fact, the last thing my date said to me prior to the opening credits was ?I owe you big time?. We were already off to a decent start.

Win a Date was a film debut for just about everyone involved. To begin with, you have a director who has basically only done Legally Blonde (a good movie for the vapid piece of crap that it was). Add to that a writer whose main claim to fame is writing for the series Mad About You (another good show for what it was, which was shit). Mixed in with this you have five actors whose numbers are (practically) greater than the combined film roles they have had (and Kate Bosworth has been in 4).

Let?s look at the film experience of the cast, shall we.

Josh Duhamel is from the series Las Vegas (which I have never seen but has James Khan in it so ? well, it must be high budget).

Nathan Lane, who you would know immediately upon seeing him (and get that weird feeling that you can?t remember if you ever liked or hated him in anything) is somewhat memorable for his part in The Birdcage back in 1996 but has mostly done television and voice-overs for animation.

Unless you count playing the fish in that awful looking recent Cat in the Hat movie, Sean Hayes has basically done Will and Grace (or Jack and Karen as it should be called).

Topher Grace is the lead from That 70s Show and has done little else (but has gotten good press for what he has done).

Ginnifer Goodwin was in Mona Lisa Smile and Porn ?n Chicken (Comedy Central ? see NOTE below) as well as one episode of Law and Order.

Finally, Kathryn Hahn (who I really hated in this movie) was in How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days and, ugh, Crossing Jordon.

These are all well-known faces to the television watching public but if any of them have being a movie star listed under their future goals, this was their first real chance.

You know what? With the possible exception of Kathryn, they did well.

Okay, so I found Topher (what kind of name is Topher ? sounds like a cheese stick or desert topping) to be his lame-old stiff self and I didn?t like Kathryn. On the other hand, Kathryn was hardly in the movie and Topher?s lame-assed, stiff self played fairly well here. Ginnifer had a small, slutty part and I do truly appreciate small, slutty parts (I?d do ?er). Sean Hayes was tolerable (but had a hard time shaking Jack from Jack and Karen) as was Nathan Lane. Josh Duhamel was quite good at playing a movie star (and that is a big stretch for him). Finally, the real star, Kate Bosworth, was so good at being who she was being (no idea whether she was actually acting and hardly care) that I fell in love with her. I literally could have watched (and did, in fact, watch) her for hours and, while listening intently, not taken in a thing she said.

Don?t get me wrong. No one was doing much hard acting here. This was basically a story with all the depth of a junior high crush. Remember, those things that seemed so intense at the time but, in hindsight, were pretty simple compared to realm, adult psychosis. Still, with a simple story about romance and ?Big Love?, everyone involved gave a solid performance.

The real kudos in this movie, however, belong to Victor Levin for not having a bad guy. This movie was 90% predictable and 90% exactly what I expected but that 10% was important and that 10% was that (and now I am wrecking it) Duhamel?s character was not just a Hollywood creep. Even deeper than that, he might have been a creep without knowing it but we never got to see that he was and what we did see made his intentions look fairly good (if a little misguided). What I am trying to say is that this is not exactly the love story you are expecting. It is damn close but it differs enough that I was impressed with the depth.

And when I say ?depth? I certainly mean it in the context of this vapid movie. I mean, this movie had fewer levels than Clueless. Still, in the end, it was a solid little movie that gave more than it promised and, despite the fact that it promised almost nothing, I was genuinely impressed.

I am not saying that you should run out and see this movie (unless you are a teenage girl in which case you will probably love it) but I am saying that, if your date wants to see it, there are worse things you could do than take her. It is a cute story with a beautiful girl and good production values.

Finally, I learned something else from this movie that I think is important to know. It turns out that teenage girls are more intelligent than the rest of us. This movie was not dumbed down to close the level that most movies aimed at adults are. Assuming that the movie was aimed well at its target audience, this would mean that teenage girls need less explained to them than the rest of the movie going public.

This movie was not stupid or sappy (although it was, and had to be, more than a bit melodramatic). Win a Date with Tad Hamilton is not going to replace any of the great romantic movies and no one at the Oscars has to be scared of losing to this movie. On the other hand, it was worth sitting through, even if the only other guy in the audience was also the only person older than me and was obviously chaperoning a gaggle of girls.

NOTE: Porn ?n Chicken is based on a true story about a club at Yale (although the name of that school is not used) in 1996 who got together regularly to watch porn and eat chicken (hence the name). The administration came down hard on the group who revolted by producing their own movie. Between the movie and the attempted assault by the university administration, the club got more popular and well known.(See SUB NOTE below).

SUB NOTE: In 1993 or 1994 there was a club at Mount Allison University called the Sackville Porn Club. As this name was not well received, it was changed to the Gender Studies Through Film Club. Needless to say, when you see Porn ?n Chicken (which I know I have to see), don?t think that the first place it happened was Yale. Hell, Mount Allison was just and example. I am certain it happened elsewhere even earlier.

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