A Date Worth Keeping
Moviegoers get another chance to decompress after the holidays with a fizzy romantic comedy whipped up by Robert Luketic, the director of Legally Blonde. They should jump at the opportunity just like blushing small-town girl Rosalee Futch does when she gets to spend a night on the town with a Hollywood heartthrob. It won't be a deep experience but it'll be entertaining.
Kate Bosworth, Josh Duhamel, and Topher Grace deliver ebullient turns to match a witty script that lightly satirizes the cult of movie stardom. Duhamel plays the matinee idol in need of positive PR after the paparazzi snap him on a wild binge. His agent and manager, both named Richard Levy and played with snide sarcasm by Nathan Lane and Sean Hayes, hatch a scheme to rehabilitate Tad's career by staging a contest over the Internet. It will benefit "Save the Children" but whoever wins the date with the carousing cad will truly need saving.
Cross-country in Frazier's Bottom, West Virginia three workers at the Piggly Wiggly follow Tad's career closely. Well, checkout girls Rosalee (Bosworth) and Cathy (Mona Lisa Smile standout Ginnifer Goodwin) pine after him while their manager and best buddy Peter (Grace) scoffs. He's secretly in love with the wholesome Rosalee and when she wins the competition and heads to La-La land he repeatedly warns her to "guard her carnal treasure." Is there a hetero guy in America who wouldn't be smitten? Luscious and adorable even when puking in the back of a limo or putting her retainer on the table before eating, Bosworth is so radiant you're more inclined to buy Rosalee as a Tinseltown fixture than a country bumpkin. Speaking of movie stars, we know from Blue Crush that Bosworth can surf and from Wonderland that she can be convincing as the junky girlfriend of an ex porn star. The talented actress has all the makings of a Hollywood superstar.
Back to Frazier's Bottom, where Tad moves after their date intending to reset his priorities, cleanse his soul, and soak up Rosalee's innocent goodness. He arrives just when Pete is ready to declare his feelings. Some of the movie's funniest moments involve Rosalee's dad (Gary Cole) catching showbiz fever. He reads "Variety Online" and warns Tad: "Have her back by dawn and no cocaine." Eventually Tad lands a big part and races back to L.A.; he asks Rosalee to join him, which forces Pete to stake his claim.
Though you know better, Duhamel keeps you guessing about Tad's true motives. Tad is a vain and fairly dim bulb but also a polished actor; he's a cad but you're never a hundred-percent sure. Duhamel's subtle performance is more of a revelation than Grace's, which is similar to his work as the brainy boy-next-door on That '70s Show. The breezy movie flows like an extended TV sitcom, which is actually a virtue. The droll script by Victor Levin, a writer on The Larry Sanders Show, proves anti-climactic. But with a movie like Win a Date with Tad Hamilton! it's not about where you're going but how you get there.
(Released by DreamWorks and rated "PG-13" for sexual content, some drug references and language.)