Sweet Rosalee Futch (Kate Bosworth) is an ordinary southern girl living in Frazier's Bottom West Virginia working at the Piggly Wiggly with her best friends Cathy (Ginnifer Goodwin) and Pete (Topher Grace) and dreaming about meeting her all-time favorite movie star Tad Hamilton (Josh Duhamel). Not a chance in hell that'll happen right? Wrong! She gets her wish when she enters a contest and wins the grand prize: an all-expense paid trip to Hollywood to go on a date with Tad much to Pete's chagrin (he is of course hopelessly and secretly in love with Rosalee). Tad's agent Richard "The Driven" Levy (Nathan Lane) and his manager also named Richard "The Shameless" Levy (Sean Hayes) have masterminded the "Win a Date" contest hoping to transform Tad a bad boy who's let fame go to his head back into the popular boy next door. But the Richards are ill prepared for the effect the contest has on their high-profile client. Once Tad spends an evening with Rosalee he realizes what he's missing in his life and moves to West Virginia to be near her so she can "rub some of that goodness" off on him. Rosalee's dream may come true but it's a huge headache for the Richards and a nightmare for Pete who'd better tell Rosalee how he feels soon or lose her forever. Think he'll win out in the end?
The performances in Tad Hamilton could easily have been formulaic but fortunately the engaging cast has enough verve and spontaneity to make you care about their characters. Bosworth (Blue Crush) has the hardest job--to keep Rosalee's sugary-sweetness from becoming too nauseating and to prove she isn't just another pretty-but- dumb hick chick. The fetching Duhamel (TV's Las Vegas) plays the two sides to Tad perfectly--the charismatic cad who gets everything he wants and the vulnerable guy who's never really learned how to cope with being in love. Then there's Grace as the adorable Pete--the real boy-next-door with his puppy-dog face and great quips. It's a persona the actor has mastered on his hit TV series That '70s Show and it's easy to see how Pete's endearing if slightly neurotic personality could win you over. As for the supporting cast Goodwin (TV's Ed) as Cathy is a breath of fresh air while veteran character actor Gary Cole's turn as Rosalee's father who tries to talk showbiz lingo with Tad is hilarious. As the Richards Lane and Hayes are as outrageously over-the-top funny as you expect them to be.
In the '80s writer/director John Hughes was the king of the romantic teen comedies that featured a quirky love triangle between the girl the geek and the hunk. Sure the plot lines were generally unsurprising--and sometimes downright melodramatic--but the dialogue was zingy and the young talent sparkled. Director Robert Luketic's Win a Date With Tad Hamilton! takes audiences back to those glory days. Like Hughes Luketic (Legally Blonde) understands the tempo a film like this requires with quick cuts and stand-alone comic vignettes. And although Hamilton's script by television writer Victor Levin isn't quite Hughes' caliber there are more than a few great lines in Hamilton ("He wants your "goodness" to rub off on him? He wants your ass to rub off on him!") as well as tender moments especially when the dejected Pete asks Tad if he ever noticed Rosalee has six different smiles. A little romantic tale like Hamilton won't win any prizes but it is an endearing smile-inducing film.