Hitch

****

Reviewed by: Josh Morrall

Formulaic but funny, Hitch is your typical successful romantic comedy, wooing you gently into submitting to its undeniable charm. By far Andy Tennant's (Sweet Home Alabama, Fools Rush In) best film, it is a smart idea that stays for as long as you want without ever becoming irritating.

Will Smith is date doctor Alex "Hitch" Hitchens, who won't teach you how to date women unless your intentions are honourable. At first glance, he plays the part with his typical energy and comic facial expressiveness, but as the film drifts into a conflict stage he shows some surprisingly intense distress, giving the role more than most actors would. Alex's problem is that he can set-up dates, invoking confidence in the male, orchestrating a situation by which the male can swoop in, but has lost faith in the concept of love in his own life.

Here arises the film's only substantial flaw. The opening scenes are light and comic, easing the audience into Alex's character and profession. He explains that whilst at college, he was far from the man he is today. Thus we see an amusing flashback, featuring a goofy looking Alex falling in love with a detached partner, who goes on to cheat on him. The message is far more serious than its presentation would suggest, as this woman's betrayal has led to a deep-seated psychological flaw in Alex's personality, which refuses to allow him to fall in love. The comedy of the flashback is contrasted starkly with the scene after Alex's allergic reaction at a cooking workshop, in which Sara (a classy Eva Mendes) opens her heart to him and Alex hints that he, too, has been deeply affected by a past experience. The audience is led to believe one thing and then another, which confuses the way we view our protagonist.

Sara's career-driven resistance to Alex's charm is minimal, but fun to watch, with Alex falling over himself to get things done with the skill he teaches others. Hitch's cringe factor is one of its most successful elements, with Kevin James delivering an endearing and embarrassing performance as Albert, an overweight accountant in search of lurve.

The look of the film is not everything that I expect from a rom-com. The use of soft focus adds an unusual sense of depth to the proceedings, which works well in the darker moments. The film lulls into conflict that we know will be resolved, but is shot so that the colour is drained from the print, making the final and obvious happy ending more vibrant and thus, very satisfying.

The comedy is a fine blend of cringe-factor and situation, with some hugely enjoyable moments, usually between Alex and Albert, such as the doorstep kissing scene and the dance tutorial. The simple episodic structure cuts between Alex and Sara and Alex and Albert before the two storylines interweave comfortably into one.

Thoroughly enjoyable, with enough fun and misfortune to distract you from its formulaic nature.

Reviewed on: 14 Mar 2005
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Hitch packshot
Date doctor struggles to win the heart of a good lady.
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Read more Hitch reviews:

The Exile **1/2
Gator MacReady **1/2

Director: Andy Tennant

Writer: Kevin Bisch

Starring: Will Smith, Eva Mendes, Kevin James, Amber Valletta, Julie Ann Emery, Robinne Lee, Nathan Lee Graham, Adam Arkin, Michael Rapaport

Year: 2005

Runtime: 115 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: US

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