Film Reviews


By • Jan 23rd, 2004 •

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DreamWorks Films / A Lucy Fisher / Douglas Wick production
Running time — 96 minutes

Vogue Magazine’s Andre Leon Talley’s “New Year, New Me” column (Vogue, January 2004) gleefully boasts as #3 the following pompous, self-aggrandizing, blowhard resolution: “Give Back.” Talley brags he will do this by reciting “The Owl and the Pussycat” onstage at an opening-night benefit for the Martha Graham Dance Company. With other luminaries, Talley “will help the troupe find its financial footing again.” I know this is what the world has been breathlessly waiting for but why not just give a big, fat check?

Beautiful, sweet, kind and wholesome Rosalee (Kate Bosworth) works in a West Virginia Piggly-Wiggly alongside her two best friends, fellow checkout clerk Cathy (Ginnifer Goodwin) and store manager Pete (Topher Grace). Rosalee and Cathy idolize movie star Tad Hamilton (Josh Duhamel). They believe he is the kind of saintly romantic man he portrays in his movies.

Tad’s manager and agent, both named Richard Levy (Nathan Lane and Sean Hayes), devise a contest to rehabilitate his bad-boy image and get him another big movie paycheck. They organize a “Win a Date with Tad Hamilton!” After collecting the $100 entry fee (which goes to a charity, of course), Rosalee wins the date. Much to the chagrin of Pete who nobody realizes is madly in love with the most beautiful girl in all of West Virginia.

Rosalee goes to Hollywood for her date and Tad is courteous, gentlemanly, and quite appealing. After Rosalee returns to her West Virginia life, Tad shows up. He’s smitten and wants some of Rosalee’s sensible morals to rub off on him. After not getting a suite at the local motel, he buys a farm. He walks around town. He’s nice to the townsfolk.

Most clever are the Hollywood sight gags. Rosalee’s father, Henry (Gary Cole), quickly wants a little piece of the Hollywood lifestyle. He checks out box office grosses on the Internet, starts reading the L.A. Bible, Julia Phillips’ “You’ll Never Eat Lunch in This Town Again,” and shows up wearing Hollywood T-shirts.

The script by Victor Levin is clever and does not heavily pounce on us with cute young sentiment. The secondary characters – the motel clerk, Rosalee’s father, the Levys, and Angelica (Kathryn Hahn) the bartender – are well drawn. WIN A DATE has a gentle touch that works and the message, yes it has a message, actually moved me.

Topher Grace leaves his hit Fox series (THAT 70’S SHOW) behind and shows he is a wonderfully expressive actor. Will his more famous co-star do the same with the upcoming THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT? This is really Grace’s movie and he brings a great deal of emotional weight to his role. Josh Duhamel is wonderfully showcased by director Robert Luketic. The camera indulges Duhamel’s tanned, sleek, self-aware hunk. I sat through the premiere episode of his TV series, “Las Vegas” at the 2003 CINEVEGAS INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL. I have skipped all the subsequent episodes. Tiny James Caan kept looking up at very tall Duhamel threatening to break his legs for having sex with his provocative 25 year-old daughter. The Daddy & Daughter thing was creepy. Duhamel had to defer to Caan’s Mafia-spitting dialogue but here, since the movie is named after his character, he finds the right balance between being self-centered and just damn nice.

Prominent Product Placement that cannot be ignored: Pringles and the highly ridiculous Segway Human Transporter. How much does it cost to have Dean Kamen’s monumental failure placed in movies and on TV shows? Dean: Nobody wants it. Move on!

Director: Richard Luketic
Screenwriter: Victor Levin
Producers: Douglas Wick, Lucy Fisher
Executive producers: William S. Beasley, Gail Lyon
Director of photography: Peter Collister
Production designer: Missy Stewart
Music: Edward Shearmur
Costume designer: Catherine Adair
Editor: Scott Hill

Rosalee Futch: Kate Bosworth
Pete: Topher Grace
Tad Hamilton: Josh Duhamel
Richard Levy the Driven: Nathan Lane
Richard Levy the Shameless: Sean Hayes
Henry: Gary Cole
Cathy Feely: Ginnifer Goodwin
Angelica: Kathryn Hahn

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