Thursday, March 10, 2005

HITCH - formulaic rom-com saved by Will Smith

HITCH is a paint-by-numbers romantic-comedy featuring Will Smith and Eva Mendes, Kevin James and Carmen Diaz-lite, Amber Valetta. Smith plays a “date doctor” who specialises in coaching men with low self-esteem on how to appear attractive to their dream-women. He is helping the earnest, sweet, but unattractive Kevin-James-character win the misunderstood social butterfly Amber-Valetta-character over. Cue lots of “odd couple” type jokes. Meanwhile he is also wooing the Eva-Mendes character. This chick has a lot of trust issues, and is also the gossip columnist who exposes the James-Valetta relationship. Cue lots of comedy-misunderstandings.

Now, I have nothing against romantic comedies per se. It just so happens that the majority of romantic-comedies produced by Hollywood studios are formulaic superficial nonsense, usually designed as vehicles for some cute
star and directed by a talentless hack. In addition, they mostly have plots that rely on key members of the cast forming ridiculous misunderstandings of each other’s motives and actions that in the real world would be cleared up in a second, but in the tortuous world of celluloid dating take a more marketable ninety minutes to unravel. In the case of HITCH, the hack director is Andy Tennant, who seems to specialise in these disposable comedies. (I submit that monstrously flawed Reese Witherspoon-Josh Lucas vehicle, SWEET HOME ALABAMA into evidence for the prosecution.)

Having said all this, I actually rather enjoyed HITCH and that is down to one factor alone: Will Smith. It is testament to how charming Will Smith is that he can single-handedly sell you a movie that is the utterly formulaic. In fact, he is so charming that he can almost makes us believe that men would actually pay the “date doctor” to learn cheesy lines like, “life is not the amount of breaths you take, it's the moments that take your breath away.” Or that women would be impressed by lines like: “Never lie, steal, cheat, or drink. But if you must lie, lie in the arms of the one you love. If you must steal, steal away from bad company. If you must cheat, cheat death. And if you must drink, drink in the moments that take your breath away.” As you can see from these *choice* quotations, HITCH is a really schmaltzy movie. Its appeal rests solely on casting Will Smith in the lead role. I think that alone just about saves it from the trashcan of cinematic history. But, it’s a close call.

HITCH is already on release in the US, Germany and Austria and opens in the UK today. It opens in France next week.

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