‘Hitch’ pair Smith and James a comedy gem

By on March 2, 2005

When it comes to “Hitch,” forget about realism. If a viewer attending a screening expects a gritty and realistic film, they will be sorely disappointed.

However, if they are looking for an old-fashioned comedy where the conclusion is predetermined then they will be entertained and rolling in the aisles with laughter alongside the rest of the audience that is also suspending their feelings of disbelief.

Will Smith’s latest movie and his first stab at a romantic comedy after years of fighting aliens, robots and drug dealers in summertime schlock, “Hitch” is a rare throwback to films of yesteryear.

Like movies from the past, “Hitch” takes place in the picturesque and fictitious land of movies where every character is either witty or beautiful. These types of films are usually disposable and never merit a second viewing, but “Hitch” is an exception. The film makes no delusions about having a complicated plot or any real conflict, unless you count Kevin James awkwardly learning how to dance and Will Smith chastising him as a conflict. The film exists solely to entertain and entertain it does.

Directed by romantic comedy veteran Andy Tennant (“Sweet Home Alabama”), “Hitch,” which opened conveniently near Valentine’s Day, revolves around the title character played by Will Smith.

Alex “Hitch” Hitchens is known to men around Manhattan as the date doctor. These desperate and female-averse men enlist Hitch to help them date their dream women.

His latest client is the portly accountant Albert (played by a hilarious Kevin James), a man looking to impress the Paris Hilton-like heiress Allegra Cole (Sports Illustrated model Amber Valleta). Meanwhile, the headstrong and fiercely independent New York gossip columnist Sara (Eva Mendes) is investigating the alleged date doctor even as she begins dating him. As expected, the plot is inconsequential, formulaic and predictable. Anyone who has seen a film in their life knows Hitch is a man who will learn the error of his ways and realize he himself has trouble committing to women.

“Hitch” is a film that never attempts to be believable, but that is what makes it so appealing. In an era where films depicting the seedier aspects of life are the norm, “Hitch” is a rare lightweight comedy that has no delusions of grandeur. The film knows what it is and does not try to pass itself off as a penetrating look at male and female relationships.

Romantic comedies often rely on the acting abilities of its players and the cast of “Hitch” is uniformly excellent. Will Smith does what he does best which is play himself.

He is affable and comical as the eponymous Hitch and he makes the audience wonder why he does not do comedy as often as he used to. Kevin James, landing his first substantial movie role after years of success on the standup circuit and television’s “King of Queens,” is riotous as he earns a majority of the film’s laughs. The scene where he showcases his dance moves to Hitch contains some of the funniest moments in recent memory. His comedic timing and likeability makes the audience actually believe a swimsuit model would fall for him.

The gorgeous Eva Mendes, best known for being Denzel Washington’s mistress in “Training Day,” makes the best of her stereotypical role as an independent woman. She equips herself nicely in her most significant role to date.

“Hitch” is a refreshing film looking simply to entertain audiences. The film works because it does not pretend to be anything other than a fluffy romantic comedy. If you have low expectations going into the film, you will be pleasantly surprised.

This new release is an entertaining film that stands head and shoulders above the rest of the alleged comedies prevalent at this time of year.


About Patrick Hart