Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Blond ingenue fails to ‘Win’ hearts in new flick

With its pop music soundtrack and bubblegum look, “Win a Date with Tad Hamilton!” may seem like another disposable teen movie. But the career of America’s “Next Big Thing” hangs in the balance.

In Hollywood, the “Next Big Thing” is a dime a dozen: a blonde, (usually) blue-eyed, gorgeous starlet hyped up as the next Tinseltown legend before her first picture hits the screen. Her face is plastered across magazine covers; she’s linked with several Hollywood heartthrobs. But then her movie flops, her star burns out and next week she’s replaced by the next “Next Big Thing.”

As with everything in our ADD-afflicted society, success has to be instantaneous. The media creates such a whirlwind of expectations around stars that it is nearly impossible for them to live up to the hype. Although Jennifer Lopez is seen on every publication known to man, she has never had a movie break $100 million. Unfortunately, these “Next Big Things” do not have that type of popularity to weather a flop. To studios, these women are like mannequins. They are put in the front window in hopes of attracting customers. If nothing happens, then they are thrown out.

Once in a while, one of these starlets hits the box office jackpot and is able to drop the –let. However, for every Cameron Diaz, there’s a Maria Pitillo, Sarah Polley, Marley Shelton and Monica Potter.

In 2003, Kate Bosworth was crowned the new “It Girl” by Entertainment Weekly. Also keeping her on the radar is her relationship with fellow “It Lister” Orlando Bloom. The only thing distinguishing her from past starlets are her unique eyes — one is green, one is brown.

An interesting facet of Bosworth’s “It Girl” status is her track record: all of her movies thus far have flopped. “Blue Crush” (2002) was a summer box office disappointment, and last fall’s indie porn saga “Wonderland” went limp in limited release, barely earning $1 million.

Hype is a tricky, nebulous thing, and it can disappear as quickly as it forms. It has been keeping Bosworth’s career afloat for a year and a half, but now, she finally has a chance to prove her star potential. “Tad Hamilton,” her third major film role, is Bosworth’s last chance to elevate herself from “It Girl” to “Bankable Actress.” If it’s a blockbuster, she’s the next Julia Roberts; if it’s a success, she’s the next Julia Stiles; if it’s a bomb, she’s the next Julia Ormond.

Luckily for Bosworth, “Tad Hamilton” is an excellent vehicle to win the hearts of Americans. From its fantastic opening title sequence, the movie is a perky, sugar-coated confection chock full of cute moments, a sweet message and an adorably clever ending. And Bosworth has been blessed with the role of Rosalee Futch, the checkout girl with a heart of gold. Her All-American looks make her a perfect fit for her small-town character. This is the role that will leave America ready to embrace its new sweetheart.

Unfortunately, she completely blows it.

Rosalee’s lovestruck friend Pete (“That ’70s Show’s” Topher Grace) mentions that she has six different smiles; we’re lucky if we see two of them. Bosworth gives a one-note (or one-smile) performance, straining and forcing the endearing quality of Rosalee. All she can come up with is a shoulder shrug and dopey “aw-shucks” grin — expressions that can be seen in any high school drama class.

This is a character that has two men hopelessly in love with her, one a movie star who decides to travel to West Virginia to be with her after one date. However, looks aside, why are these two men fighting for her? Bosworth conveys no charisma or depth whatsoever. Nothing about Rosalee’s personality or mannerisms seems natural.

There will always be another mannequin ready to go through the front window. The only way to become a big-name actress is that old devil — talent. Hollywood stars are so terrified of damaging their fragile fame that they consistently take the safe, sure-bet roles, when really, Hollywood notices risks. Charlize Theron has built a career out of playing “the girl” in several films, but she is finally stealing the spotlight from her erstwhile co-stars with “Monster.”

If Bosworth wants to forge a career in Hollywood, then she needs to step up to the plate and quit resting on her “It Girl” laurels. After all, it takes more than different colored eyes to stay afloat in Hollywood.

Communication sophomore Phil Siegel is a writer for PLAY. He can be reached at [email protected].

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Blond ingenue fails to ‘Win’ hearts in new flick