There’s still time to nominate local icons for Best of D.C.
In Win a Date With Tad Hamilton!, the titular name is not only a character but also an idea. “Everybody is Tad Hamilton to somebody,” pronounces a character in this fluffy but satisfying story about nabbing the swooniest catch. Appropriately enough, director Robert Luketic’s follow-up to Legally Blonde offers almost everyone a little something to fall in love with: a great cast, likable characters, and even a self-aware assessment of the romantic comedy as a genre that caters to “pathetic and desperate emotional cripples.” Grocery-store clerk Rosalee (Kate Bosworth) and her friend Cathy (Ginnifer Goodwin) are over the moon for Hollywood hottie Tad (Josh Duhamel). Soon enough, the virginal Rosalee enters and wins a contest to go on a date with her crush, then becomes the talk of Frazier’s Bottom, W.Va., as Tad follows her home hoping that her “goodness will rub off on him.” Adding a bit of dramatic weight to the gigglefest that ensues is store manager Pete (Topher Grace), whose sarcastic analysis of the situation (“he wants your ass to rub off on him!”) not-so-effectively masks his love of Rosalee. Mad About You writer Victor Levin’s dialogue is occasionally groan-inducing but more often funny, aided by the comic talents of bit players such as Nathan Lane, Sean Hayes, and Gary Cole (who, as Rosalee’s suddenly Tinseltown-crazed dad, quotes unintelligible Variety headlines and sports a Project Greenlight T-shirt). Bosworth, meanwhile, simply gleams as the sunny, vulnerable small-town girl, and Grace, whether his Pete is lip-synching to Barry White or nervously telling Rosalee to “guard your carnal treasure,” gets a laugh out of his every scene. If Win a Date With Tad Hamilton! really was made for emotional cripples, it also proves that sometimes that’s not such a bad thing. —Tricia Olszewski