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Hitch Movie Review

originally posted many years ago

Hitch is proof that good casting, charming humor and a light attitude can change a mediocre script into something memorable. The film's writer, first-timer Kevin Bisch, has a talent for creating fresh dialogue and funny characters, but he has by no means perfected his craft. Most of the time, Hitch is a sluggishly written film; drop dead hilarious, yes, but also a tad cliched and preachy when it comes to drama. Bisch's abilities to weld comedy and drama are lacking, and it makes Hitch stall whenever it changes to a more serious mood. Yet, because all three lead actors are perfect for their roles, and because director Andy Tennant has a knack for building cast chemistry, Hitch's dramatic stumbles can be easily forgiven. The stuff on the page may need work, but the execution is endearing, adorable, and done with definite flair.

In New York City, Alex "Hitch" Hitchens (Will Smith) is the man to go to if you're having woman troubles. Hitch is a certified date doctor, a for-hire relationship coach who can teach even the most oblivious men how to woo the women of their dreams. How to listen, say the right thing, act natural, not look foolish on the dance floor-Hitch teaches it all to turn the clueless into Casanovas. And if there ever was a clueless man, it's Albert Brenneman (Kevin James), a timid consultant who longs to be with his company's favorite client, beautiful celebrity Allegra Cole (Amber Valetta). Hitch is eager to help, but even the date doctor will be hard pressed to get a guy like Albert in the crosshairs of an internationally famed hottie like Allegra. But Hitch still takes the job because Albert is a good man with admirable intentions-and besides, who is Hitch to turn down a challenge? "You've heard of of Michelangelo and the Sistine Chapel, right?" asks Hitch. "Sure," responds Albert. Hitch smiles and points to himself: "Michelangelo," and pointing to Albert, "Sistine Chapel. Let's get painting."

To enjoy Hitch, one has to sustain a little disbelief. In the real world, there's no way in hell a schmuck like Albert would ever have a chance with Allegra. Luckily, this is a comedy where the hilarity of Albert and Hitch's "date training" montages far outweigh the implausibility of Albert's goal. The scenes where Hitch coaches Albert are executed with wonderful ideas and expert comic timing-truly the film's greatest moments. How priceless is the scene where Hitch teaches Albert how to dance. Albert, confident in his rhythm, shows Hitch what he can do-the lamest, most distinctly white guy dance you can imagine. It's bloody hilarious, but not as funny as Hitch's expression, a stone-faced, pitiful look, the kind that's always punctuated with one of those witty quips. As Albert finishes, Hitch slaps him ever so lightly, and says with conviction, "Don't ever...do that again."

Had this scene or any other like it been given to uncharismatic actors, Hitch would be a disaster. Will Smith and Kevin James are not only charismatic, but they have a way of making us howl at the weakest of jokes. They're true masters of comic delivery, and what's more, they work perfectly together. Will Smith's charm and screen presence is already known to audiences, but Kevin James (star of TV's "King of Queens") is not. James, however, makes a striking movie star debut and is able to keep up with the more experienced Smith every step of the way. Sure, they're an unlikely duo, but they possess the combined ability to make any scene in Bisch's script into something side-splittingly funny.

There's a side plot in Hitch that takes center stage whenever Albert and Hitch aren't in session, which involves Eva Mendes as a gossip columnist who falls for the date doctor himself. The whole idea here is to give Hitch human definition, to show him on a date really interacting with another person, rather than on the sidelines as a romantic umpire. This both works and doesn't work. It works because Will Smith and Eva Mendes share great romantic chemistry, to the point where we actually care if their characters end up together. Their dates are fun, and at times, a little touching, so we don't mind having to watch them. But, ultimately, the scenes with Smith and Mendes aren't nearly as entertaining as the Hitch/Albert stuff, which is the real reason to see this movie. Hitch's romantic side has worth, but the comedy, the magic between Smith and James, is so much better that we don't really want to see anything else.

Besides, the romance has a tendency to get a little cliched anyway. There's even the easily cleared-up misunderstanding that breaks up the hero couple, followed by the man's obligatory monologue in the middle of the street explaining just how much he loves the girl. We've seen that fluff before, and it hurts Hitch, but not so much that we're willing to dislike it. Hitch is a really funny movie, something that's likely to unite all comedic tastes and preferences into fits of laughter. Credit the cast, the director, whoever-Hitch is the only comedy you need to see this February.

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