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Published: Friday, 1/23/2004

Movie review: Win a Date With Tad Hamilton ***

BY NANCIANN CHERRY
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Topher Grace, left, Kate Bosworth, and Josh Duhamel star in <i>Win a Date With Tad Hamilton</i>, a comedy from DreamWorks SKG. Topher Grace, left, Kate Bosworth, and Josh Duhamel star in <i>Win a Date With Tad Hamilton</i>, a comedy from DreamWorks SKG.
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Win a Date with Tad Hamilton is the very definition of mind candy.

Directed by Robert Luketic of Legally Blonde fame, it is an endearing and funny romantic comedy, perfectly suited for a cold winter's day.

Josh Duhamel of television's Las Vegas plays the title character, a leading man in strong, sensitive movie roles, the kind that have women sighing and men groaning. (Stereotypes, I know, but the movie makes a joke of them.) Two of the sighing women are Rosalee (Kate Bosworth) and Cathy (Ginnifer Goodwin), and one of the groaning men is Pete (Topher Grace). The three are best buddies despite the fact that Pete is their boss, the manager of a small-town West Virginia grocery store where the women work as clerks.

Pete is in love with Rosalee, but she, of course, doesn't know it, and he's wildly jealous when she wins a contest to fly to Hollywood and spend an evening with Tad. She, of course, considers it the trip of a lifetime.

As for Tad, he is so not looking forward to spending an evening with a hayseed from West Virginia. The whole idea of the contest came from his agent (Nathan Lane) and his manager (Sean Hayes), who are trying to polish the image Tad tarnished during an evening of wild partying.

Much to Tad's surprise, Rosalee is pretty. And even though she's obviously a besotted fan, she has her feet firmly on the ground, challenging his perceptions about himself and the people who are watching his movies.

The movie continues to tweak stereotypes. Just when Pete (and the audience) thinks he has Tad figured out, something happens. Just when Tad thinks he has Rosalee's number, she surprises him (and us). And then there's the bartender, Anjelica.

The four stars, who are uniformly likable and fun to watch, take every opportunity to poke gentle fun at audience expectations. Their sense of comic timing is so well-honed, they make Lane and Hayes seem somehow stilted and artificial.

It's a pleasure to watch the situations unfold as the actors play off each other, and it's a greater pleasure to realize that a younger generation of performers has the talent to stick around.

Win a Date with Tad Hamilton is the kind of movie that puts a grin on the face from the opening scene and keeps it there throughout. It doesn't intend to be profound or important, just simply entertaining, and it succeeds admirably.



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