HITCH is a pleasant enough meringue of a romantic comedy. Light, sweet, and essentially insubstantial. What it has going for it is its attitude, one that champions true love over a roll in the hay, some nice physical comedy by Kevin James, and Will Smith, a leading man in the old school mold.
Hes Alex Hitchens, the date doctor of New York considered by many to be an urban legend. When mere adoration fails to get a woman to respond to a guy who is sincere, but clueless, Hitch steps in with just the right moves to get that guy to a third date with the object of his affections, after that its up to nature, nurture, and the mystery that is falling in love. His technique is simple, pay attention, listen, and be yourself, only less geeky. At least for the first three dates. Its gotten him a spotless track record as far as pairing up the rest of the world, but he himself, after a traumatic heartbreak, has commitment issues. So does Sara (Eva Mendes), a gossip columnist with a cynical outlook but the buried soul of a romantic. Naturally they meet, naturally they fall for each other, and also naturally, Hitchs best laid plans go badly awry every time he takes Sarah out. On the professional front, hes helping uber-schlub Albert (James), a nice but nerdy accountant who is a pratfall waiting to happen, win the heiress of his dreams, the one who is splashed all over Sarahs gossip column as she serial dates her way through Euro trash and celebrities. If the plot resorts to something as hackneyed as Hitch puffing up like a popover with an allergic reaction to something he eats while out with Sara, the resulting Benadryl high at least moves the story along.
The best scenes are the ones with Smith and James. Such opposites, Hitch cool, James desperate, trying to dance with a modicum of dignity, or get the words out when, under Hitchs tutelage, the heiress comes looking for him, are rich fodder for sight gags, slow burns, and pandemonium, the which they milk it for all its worth with precision timing and a real sense of fun. Thats one of the other things HITCH has going for it. There isnt a mean-spirited moment anywhere. Under director Andy Tennants suitably light touch, it breezes by at a good pace until the last quarter, when everything hits the fan and, for the purposes of intense introspection, self-discovery, and an extra 20 minutes the film could have done without, everyone essentially gets stupid. Not in the love makes everyone an idiot way, but in the lets bring the audience down for a while because they were just having way too much fun until now.
HITCH is a modern fairy tale that doesnt take itself too seriously and neither should we. It relies on its star to sell the fantasy, and he does. Smith exudes an affable charm, smooth without being slick, confident without being narcissistic, and possessing a solid, irresistible undercurrent of suave that makes him a cross between Jimmy Stewart and Cary Grant. If you take it for what it is, a bit of fluff that won’t linger much past the closing credits, it cant help but evoke that rosy glow that only romance can engender.