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January 26, 2004 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2004-01-26

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January 26, 2004
artseditor@michigandaily. corn



Teacher gets duped in 'Fiance

By Katie Marie Gates
Daily TV/New Media Editor

Twelve years ago, MTV began what
was then a fresh new genre of televi-
sion. With the first season of "The
Real World," reality TV was born.
Since then, seven strangers have given
birth to five wannabe boy-band stars,
16 money-hungry survivors, 25 eligi-

ble bachelors and
bachelorettes and
now one "Big Fat
FOX's latest
attempt at origi-
nal programming
takes the now tired

My Big Fat
Mondays at 9 p.m.
idea of "reality"

by FOX to annoy Randi and her fam-
ily throughout the engagement, to
sabotage her chances at winning and
potentially to ruin her life.
The premise is ridiculous but
brings some laughs to counteract the
many tears Randi is bound to cry
throughout the course of show. Het
gullibility is the biggest outrage of
the melodrama as she accepts each of
Steve's bizarre and outrageous
actions as genuine attempts to win
her love and impress her folks. The
audience may initially feel sorry for
her, but remember, she was stupid
enough to sign up for a mystery real-
ity TV show.
Confessionals with Steve reveal
his arrogant attitude about Randi,
which will make it even easier for
her to hate him in the end. The quali-
ty of his acting skills is debatable but
he is certainly willing to be overly
obnoxious and even shed clothing
when necessary.
The host of this reality disaster,
Claudia, is of course frustratingly
overdramatic but adds something
past reality hosts have lacked: sever-
al pounds of make-up. The over-the-
top face paint is a sharp contrast to
the soft tones of the show's beautiful
star and makes "My Big Fat Obnox-
ious Fianc6" even more unbearable.

Courtesy of DreamWorks

I think you're a bit too much man for me, Tad.


and subjects Randi, a schoolteacher
from Arizona, to 12 days of engage-
ment to the most obnoxious man
imaginable. Duped from the begin-
ning, Randi has no idea what the
premise of her reality nightmare will
be and is shocked to learn she must
pretend to be in love with a perfect
stranger. She is even more surprised
that the show purposely found a mis-
match for her in the overweight and
unmannered Steve.
Randi and Steve must convince

Courtesy of FOX
Welcome to my world, sweetheart.
Randi's family that they met on a
reality TV show, have fallen in love
and plan to get married. If they can
make it to the altar and through the
ceremony with all of Randi's family
present and without objection, Randi
will win $500,000. What she doesn't
know is .that Steve is an actor hired

By Zach Mabee
Daily Arts Writer
Certain films can be helpful lessons in restraint; they're
invaluable learning experiences that sharpen the critical
skills and analytical acumen of any viewer. "Win a Date
with Tad Hamilton!" could be thought of in this positive
light, although it probably shouldn't be
appreciated for much else.
It's hard, though, to imagine a movie Win a Date
built on such shaky foundations actu- with Tad
ally amounting to anything worth- Hamilton!
while. "Tad" follows a small-town, At Quality 16 and
country bumpkin, Rosalee Hutch Showcase
(Kate Bosworth, "Blue Crush"), as she DreamWorks
journeys to California to go on a date
with the man of her, and most girls', dreams, actor Tad
Hamilton (Josh Duhamel, TV's "Las Vegas").
The date is intended simply to be a charitable prize for a
contest winner, but the night evolves into much more. Tad
falls head over heels for Rosalee's southern charm and
The two become passionately involved, and the only
roadblock to their eventual life together is Rosalee's boss,
friend and hapless romantic admirer, Pete (Topher Grace,
TV's "That '70s Show"). The story unfolds into a valiant
struggle by Pete to capture, once and for all, the object of
his relentless affection.
"Tad" is difficult to grasp from the outset. Its laughable
premise is tantamount to the story behind the recently

concluded "Legally Blonde" series, and the presentation
reeks of self-parody more than anything else. It's as
though the minds behind it were whimsically inspired to
make a movie and did what they did for their own enjoy-
ment above all else.
That's not to say that moviemaking shouldn't be, for
those involved, an enjoyable undertaking, but "Tad" trans-
fers very little of the makers' enjoyment to the hearts of
viewers. It skates by precariously, for probably the first half
of the film, on empty jokes about Hollywood fads and
female adoration for Tad. And then, after an hour of useless
goings-on, the film attempts to satisfy sentimentally with a
syrupy romance.
The characters of a backwoods West Virginia town
emerge from the woodwork, spouting off axioms about
love, friendship and the good life. The small-town girl and
local bartender wax sagacious and romantic and probably
touch quite a few hearts in the process.
Not everything is wretched; "Tad" certainly has its
redeeming qualities. Gary Cole, most commonly remem-
bered as Mike Brady from "The Brady Bunch Movie,"
delivers an enjoyable performance as Rosalee's foolish
father who instantly becomes a film and martini connois-
seur to impress his daughter's famous beau. Grace and
company provide some charming, awkwardly humorous
moments, as well.
If, however, you're able to see through sentimental
stratagems aimed at charming-your heart, and you
can't appreciate a movie in light of only a few
comedic scenes, then you'd better use this "Tad" to
hone your critical eye and learn to avoid similar out-
ings in the future.

Vandersiee elaborates on pop roots

By Andrew M. Gaerig
Daily Arts Writer

Too many singer/songwriters
indulge in the pleasure of economy.
The hushed tones and nascent hum of
an acoustic guitar are well and fine,
but they no
longer make for John
compelling the-
ater. Sure, every Vanderslice
once in a while Cellar Door
some prodigy Barsuk
gets lucky (ahem,
Bob Dylan, Neil Young, etc.), but for
the most part, an over-reliance on
simplicity for the sake of some sort
of natural state has led to boring,
tepid music.
Fortunately, John Vanderslice
throws down at the other end of the
spectrum. The rare songwriter who
has logged more time pushing faders
than re-hashing a C-G chord pro-

gression, Vanderslice saturates his
creations with pulsing electronic
rhythms, horns, strings, keyboards
and the kitchen sink. All this is not
to say that Vanderslice, who has
been releasing solo records since
2000, is some unknown entity. His
songs don't sound out of place, just
dense, and Cellar Door, his latest, is
no exception.
Vanderslice's head may sit in front
of the mixing board, but there's no
denying that his heart is steeped with
classic pop: Todd Rundgren and Roxy
Music are convenient touchstones, but
Vanderslice, to his credit, has crafted
a unique, if vaguely familiar, sound.
The tip-toe balladry of "Wild Straw-
berries" is slight and lovely, and the
warm thump of "When It Hits My
Blood" carries the 1970's drug-song
torch through sweet harmonies.
"Promising Actress" is a clear high-
light, adding a gorgeous chorus to
some of Vanderslice's best lyrics.
Elsewhere, Vanderslice shows his

talents as a producer, to mixed effect.
"Pale Horse" benefits from fuzzy
drums and winding guitars, but "Up
Above the Sea," despite some pretty
organ breaks, can't overcome its
heavy-handed electronic rhythms.
"Heated Pool and Bar" struts along
mightily on makeshift percussion,
and "My Family Tree" supplants a
slow beginning with an optimistic
rush of affected guitars and slashing
strings. However, "Coming and
Going on Easy Terms" shifts too fre-
quently, often into melodramatic key-
board bursts.
On Cellar Door, Vanderslice fur-
ther solidifies his reputation as a mas-
ter craftsman, but his penchant for
excess could probably use a bit of
editing. For all of its strengths, the
record occasionally suffers both from
ill-advised experiments and from a
monotony of tempo and tone. A bit of
help could turn Cellar Door, already
an intriguing and fulfilling listen, into
a true work of art.

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