Directed by Andy Tennant
Hitch is a romantic comedy that isn't smart enough to stick to the romance and the comedy. Instead, it veers into annoyingly preachy drama and gets shot in the foot by Cupid's errant arrow.
Alex "Hitch" Hitchens (Will Smith, Men In Black) is a date doctor, a well-to-do love consultant who caters to equally well-to-do New York brownstone residents. Sadly, it's not just the average Joe and Jane who face romantic challenges. Even high-and-mighty socialites and gazillionaires have trouble finding true love.
Thank the Maker, then, for Hitch. For an undisclosed sum, he'll Google the object of your affection and provide you with enough ammo that a first date is guaranteed. According to Hitch, "Any man has a chance to sweep the woman of his dreams off her feet, all he needs is the right broom."
Oh. And if you're a white boy, he'll throw in some dancing lessons for free.
Please note that there is no irony to be had in the fact that Hitch himself is single and still "wookin' for wub." Oh no. He's just too damn good for the average woman. His idea of Sunday brunch? Jet skiing down the Hudson followed by a personalized, closed-to-the-public tour of Ellis Island. Hitch is the kind of guy who would never waste a date on something as mundane as dinner and a movie.
Hitch is incredibly ethical and incredibly discreet. Then again, it's easy to keep a low profile — and sleuthing expenses down — when your primary source of information about a person is culled from a PC. Hitch smartly keeps his clientele to media types, socialites, and financial mavens about whom there is already a wealth of publicly available material.
It'd be interesting to see how well Hitch's strategies fare outside of the New York metropolitan area, when he has to contend with average people, a large number of whom still cannot be Googled.
This Boy is Smooth
Hitch focuses on two romances. One is between an accountant, Albert (Kevin James, TV's The King of Queens), and his dreamgirl, the mega-wealthy, hot-bodied socialite Allegra Cole (Amber Valletta, Raising Helen). He's a chubby klutz and there are too many paparazzi blocking Allegra's path to love.
The other entanglement revolves around Hitch and Sara (Eva Mendes, Once Upon a Time in Mexico). Sara's way too busy to deal with a boyfriend. She's an incredibly important gossip columnist, after all. And she is full of self-important attitude. Vacation on the beach? Why bother? She's got people to gossip about.
Perhaps, then, it doesn't faze Sara that Hitch Googled her and used other unknown channels of "research" to find out all about her. Normal people would save that sort of research for conversation during their first date, but here the amount of information Hitch knows about Sara before Date One is exponentially greater than the amount that would creep out even the least paranoid of people.
But he's smooth, he's Will Smith, and this player with a heart gets a second date with Sara, in spite of the fact that the first was a blockbuster disaster.
The Merchant of Finesse
Granted, there are some genuinely funny bits between Hitch and his hopeless case, Albert. There are also nice moments between Hitch and Sara and between Albert and Allegra.
Unfortunately, so much of the good will (no pun intended) generated in the early scenes is thrown away when Hitch goes heavy on the drama and tries to mimic something Arthur Miller or William Shakespeare would have tried.
The biggest offense comes via an incredibly clumsy subplot involving Sara's best friend and a date gone bad. That date was allegedly one of Hitch's projects, which leads Sara down the path of incredibly poor journalistic practices. Then again, she is a gossip columnist and therefore good journalistic practices are probably a foreign concept to her.
If Hitch had any sense of conviction in its own dramatic turns, it would have been far better served by driving the story into new directions. Instead, the drama is simply uninspired foreplay and merely an excuse for overwrought dramatic exposition, some so badly written by first-timer Kevin Bisch and so poorly directed by Andy Tennant (Anna and the King) that even the typically charming Smith is caught in the act of acting.
Chock full of stats and cute, romantic sayings, Hitch is a cute movie. But just like a bad date, its company wears thin after the first hour and by the end of it all, parting is hardly such sweet sorrow. It's more like welcome relief to head back home alone.
• Originally published at MovieHabit.com.