Alex “Hitch” Hitchens (Will Smith), aka the Date Doctor, has made a career as a professional Cyrano, providing men with the means to connect with the women they desire. He believes that any man can sweep any woman off her feet as long as he remains honest and follows the substance-over-style basics: look (at her eyes), listen and learn. His greatest challenge comes in the form of Albert (Kevin James), an affable shlub who has his sights set on Allegra (Amber Valleta), a gorgeous young heiress/media darling. When Hitch becomes enamoured of Sara (Eva Mendez) a stunning gossip columnist who is down on men and out for a story, his best training goes out the window. Physician heal thyself..
Okay, moving, not a good thing. Come to think of it, talking not so good either...
The trailers for Hitch are witty and hint at the great chemistry between the leads. This is, more often than not, a bad sign, as studios are known for culling a movie’s best scenes and jamming them into the trailer to draw in the crowds. Once they’ve plunked down their ten bucks, the audience is left with little more than the déjà vu and 100 minutes of excess filler. I’m happy to say that is not the case here.
Whether it’s Will Smith’s silky narration or the motley crew of “distinct” Romeos stumbling through the initial terrifying phases of guided courtship, it’s quickly apparent that this is going to be an amusing lighthearted flick.. Smith shines as the ultra slick man with the method, but like any superhero, Hitch only uses his powers for good – there is no slimy edge to his machinations as he genuinely wants his charges to find love. Mendez is a capable muse as Sara, even if she is given to frowning a bit too often. Thankfully her character is tempered by a quirky unpredictability, and the inevitable relationship gaffes between Hitch and Sara are amusing. Smith and James also work well off of one another however James always manages to run away with the scene.
James is largely subdued as Albert and doesn’t rely on the bombastic deprecation typical of many “big” comics. Albert’s sincerity and nervous optimism in his search for self-improvement waivers but he still continues to swing for the fences We can’t help but feel for him as he struggles to stifle his creative side while “dancing” (let’s just say I’m never stepping on a dance floor again, just in case). So when it appears that he’s going to succeed in spite of himself you want to cheer for him.
Rounding out the cast is Valleta (looking vaguely like Courtney Cox-Arquette with a dye job) as Allegra, the closet shrinking violet in search of a guy to share the simple life. While there may be no Oscar in Valleta’s immediate future, Allegra’s relationship with Albert is not only sweet but wholly believable in spite of the fact that we know it could never happen. Or could it?
'Hitch' is not a deep film that delves into the mysteries of human interactions and relationships. It is however a thoroughly enjoyable date flick that pokes good hearted fun at the games the genders play and delivers some great laughs in the process. I predict a blockbuster Valentines.