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It’s romantic comedy time again! “Hooray!” I hear you cry in an ironic fashion. But wait—this is no ordinary teen movie! Win a Date with Tad Hamilton is directed by none other than Robert Luketic, the man at the helm of the surprisingly excellent Legally Blonde, a film that stands as one of a handful of teen comedies that I can endure without wanting to remove my eyes with a rusty blade. It was with this in mind that I optimistically sat down to watch the film…
 
Win a Date with Tad Hamilton
Film
Tad Hamilton (Josh Duhamel) is one of Hollywood’s hottest movie stars, but his penchant for booze, cigarettes, fast cars, and even faster women is having a severely detrimental effect on his career.  In order to restore some of that “nice guy” credibility and keep the movie offers rolling in, his agents Richard 'the driven' Levy (Nathan Lane) and Richard 'the shameless' Levy (Sean Hayes) devise a competition in which the prize is a date with Tad himself! The eventual winner, Rosealee Futch (Kate Bosworth), is just about the biggest Tad fan there is. Rosalee works as a grocery store clerk at the Piggly Wiggly supermarket with her best friends Cathy (Ginnifer Goodwin) and Pete (Topher Grace), but her devotion to Tad has blinded Rosalee to the fact that Pete himself is in love with her.

However, Rosalee’s date goes better than she ever dreamt it would, and Tad himself realises that he no longer has his priorities in order. Enchanted by Rosalee's innocence and overwhelming goodness, Tad leaves Hollywood for a simple life on a ranch in West Virginia to be closer to his new love, much to the horror of his agents (and, of course, Pete). What follows is a tug of love between the Hollywood superstar and the small-town boy, all for the affections of the girl next door.

There are two things I require from a romantic comedy: romance, and comedy. Tad Hamilton has precious little of either. The film feels like it has had huge chunks of the story removed for the sake of fitting a specific running time, giving the audience very little time to get to know the characters before the film shifts into “top gear”. For example, Pete’s feelings for Rosalee are very subtly implied, and I didn’t feel that the two were close enough for the eventual payoff to hold any credibility.

The other big problem with the film is that Tad actually turns out to be a nice guy, and one who is genuinely interested in Rosalee at that. It would have been much easier to root for the wimpy small-town boy if Tad had merely been using her as a means to an end (and he is an actor after all). Throw in the fact that there are few, if any laugh out loud jokes in the film, and you’ve got yourself yet another bland, formulaic teen comedy that we’ve all seen a thousand times before…

Win a Date with Tad Hamilton
Video
The film is presented in the 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen aspect ratio, and is a solid, if unremarkable effort. There’s really nothing wrong with the transfer—colour rendition is fine (even flesh tones), black levels are deep and remain consistent, and there are few artefacts worry about—but it lacks the sharpness and level of detail associated with the very best the format has to offer. As DVD matures it’s becoming increasingly difficult to effectively criticise the pictorial elements of releases, simply because most “average” transfers still look pretty good. Tad Hamilton falls into this category.

Audio
The disc includes both English and German Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks, which are encoded at 448Kbps and 384Kbps respectively. As with the video, the aural elements of the disc are fine for hat they are, but certainly won’t be near the top of anyone’s “Best of” list come the end of the year. Dialogue remains reasonably clear throughout, and the predominantly front-orientated mix is occasionally punctuated by effective use of the discrete surround channels during the livelier scenes. Aside from Barry White the soundtrack is largely forgettable, but it’s all inoffensive enough. The biggest problem I had with the track was that the volume levels seemed to be set somewhat lower than most, requiring me to crank things up a little in order to hear everything clearly.

Win a Date with Tad Hamilton
Extras
Region two consumers don’t get quite as much as our region one cousins in this instance, but I’m sure we’re all quite used to that by now… What little there is on the disc is spearheaded by sixteen Deleted Scenes, all of which vary in quality somewhat. There’s nothing here that really adds to the story, although a couple of the scenes are vaguely amusing (but no more so than anything in the film). Perhaps the oddest scenes are those featuring current “It” girl and sometime amateur porn star, Paris Hilton. Paris parachutes into Tad’s swimming pool offering herself up as some kind of plaything, but he (somewhat implausibly) turns her down. Doh!

Next up we have a Gag Reel. I’m not sure if the intention was to make me physically gag, but if it was then it certainly achieved its goal. Running for a little over eight minutes, as with the film itself there’s very little here to make you laugh (unless you have a low hilarity threshold). There are a couple of cute moments featuring Kate Bosworth, but if I’m being honest that’s only because I find her somewhat attractive.

The final entry in this rather bland list of extras is a Photo Gallery. Oh my God—still pictures! I can barely contain my excitement! Please. When will studios learn that this is the kind of “bonus feature” that you put on a disc when you’ve used every other bit of available space for exciting, innovative features, not when you’re trying to pad it out to make a rather pathetic bunch of extras look better than they are?

Win a Date with Tad Hamilton
Overall
I’m not really sure what to say about Win a Date with Tad Hamilton. I didn’t find it in particularly funny (I believe I chuckled once), and the kind of overly sentimental, unrealistic “romance” depicted in the film left me cold. I mean come on, who’s going to choose the local boy over the handsome, wealthy, talented, movie star, who also happens to be a nice guy? This kind of “fairytale” ending only exists in the minds of twelve year old girls and unexceptional scriptwriters.

The DVD itself is also a pretty lacklustre affair. It’s true that the audio-visual elements are mostly fine, but as previously mentioned they’re not going to win any awards come the end of the year. However, it is the extremely poor and uncreative extras that really let the disc down. Ok, so there are sixteen deleted scenes, but who cares about how many there are when none of them are any good? And come on, a gag reel and some still photos? Give me a break! In all honesty I find it hard to recommend this disc to all but the most devoted of fans, and I certainly wouldn’t advise that anyone buy it blind. Win a Date with Tad Hamilton might be worth a rental if you’ve seen everything else your local store has to offer, but just don’t set your expectations to high.


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