***1/2 (out of 5)
February 11, 2005
Will Smith as ALEX HITCHENS
Eva Mendes as SARA MELAS
Kevin James as ALBERT BRENNAMAN
Amber Valletta as ALLEGRA COLE
Michael Rappaport as BEN
Adam Arkin as MAX TRUNDLE
Studio: Columbia Pictures
Directed by: Andy Tennant
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
“Hitch” is a pretty cute movie in its own right, and it’s slated for release at the perfect time of year. With Valentine’s Day falling on the Monday after it hits the theaters, “Hitch” will make a great date movie. There’s plenty of romantic comedy elements to keep the women happy, and the men will find a funny scene that pokes fun at all the problems we face on the dating scene. (Thank god I’m married. I’d never go back to that world for anything!)
Will Smith plays Alex “Hitch” Hitchens, one of the smoothest men in New York. He runs a rather unique consulting business, teaching dorky and nerdy men to overcome their inhibitions to get the girls of their dreams. With a set-up like this, it’s tempting to say that Hitch is a scoundrel. However, he has his standards and only tries to play cupid so couples could fall in love. He leaves the one-night stands to his own game.
However, when one of his clients’ relationships collides with the stories written by a sexy gossip columnist named Sara (Eva Mendes), things start to get sticky. It doesn’t help that both Sara and Hitch are attracted to each other. And Hitch’s normally ladykiller techniques always seem to backfire around Sara, making him all the more desirable (because who really wants perfection?).
Sure, this is nothing more than another Will Smith vehicle, and he is set up perfectly in every shot. Yeah, he falls too often into his weak and rocky Will Smith improv style, but that is thankfully limited. He’s been doing it since “Men in Black,” and he really needs to get some new material. But hey, at least he’s not nearly as annoying as he was in “Shark Tale.”
The film is a bit long, and things start to unravel in the middle. It’s not that they were set up all that expertly either. The first half of the film sees different plots and subplots battling for the spotlight. It’s as if the director kept forgetting that this was a Will Smith vehicle. However, in light of the Will Smith coolness overload I’ve seen over the years, this is a good thing.
Most people will be drawn to this movie because of Will Smith. But make no mistake that the real deal is Kevin James, who manages to steal the scene every time. In many ways, I was much more interested in his relationship – the tubby guy wooing the supermodel type – than I was at watching Will Smith land the ever-sexy Eva Mendes. I guess that’s the danger of having more interesting supporting characters than leads in a film.
Fortunately, things gain some focus near the end. There are some wild coincidences written in that would make a “Sex in the City” episode look completely realistic, but if you can swallow these pills, the story ain’t that bad.
The underlying theme in “Hitch” is that men and women not only are clueless about the opposite sex, but they really don’t know what they want for themselves, either. In this respect, it is about as accurate a film as you will ever see.
“Hitch” probably won’t be the shiniest jewel in Will Smith’s crown, but it probably won’t be as hard on him as flops like “Wild Wild West” were. Consider the garbage that has been released recently in the early 2005 rush, “Hitch” should stand up nicely to the competition. Hey, at least it’s not another flippin’ horror movie.