Just in case you were unaware, Hitch is slick Hollywood product. Purportedly a heartwarming romantic comedy, it is in fact pure construct, and a fantastical one at that. Where else but in a glossy star vehicle would you find two people enjoying a Sunday morning jet skiing date? Indeed, this is as believable a Will Smith picture as Independence Day or the Men in Black efforts and just as high concept. He plays Alex ‘Hitch’ Hitchens, the self-styled “date doctor” who aids unlucky bachelors in getting the women of their dreams. During the opening credits we bear witness to three such successful operations, whilst the film proper concentrates on two bigger challenges: overweight accountant Albert (Kevin James) - his “Sistine Chapel” - and himself. The big question and high concept of course, revolving around whether the doctor can succeed in love by his own methods.
The problem is that we already know the answer, indeed the final outcomes, such is the amount of calculation that has gone into Hitch. Yet despite being thought out, re-thought out and then polished again, this is a far from flawless piece of work. Soulless would be more appropriate for everything has been given such a gloss that textures no longer exist. Potentially interesting digressions, such as the possible misogyny/misanthropy of the concept of the “date doctor” are all neatly parcelled away; this is a film about true love and wish fulfilment – and besides isn’t it more fun to see a fat guy dancing?
Indeed, the set piece is Hitch’s raison d’être, a succession of which comprise the duration until the “happily ever after” finale. So as well as James busting a few moves we also get Eva Mendes being kicked in the face, Will Smith with a swollen head and the obligatory piano-scored emotional content. And it is only content as each seems present solely as a means of providing a trailer which can cynically attract the date audience without hinting at the sheer anonymity.
In this respect it comes as no surprise to find Andy Tennant at the helm. His is a CV made up entirely by the kind of film of which you can never quite remember the director, let alone a directorial flourish: It Takes Two, Fools Rush In, Sweet Home Alabama. And now Hitch finds itself as just another addition to this ever expanding roster, destined for Bank Holiday screenings and a complete erosion from memory.
A major release from a major company, Hitch unsurprisingly comes to region 2 DVD with an anamorphic transfer and DD5.1 sound mix. Moreover, both are equally fine, with neither displaying any noticeable technical faults whilst remaining as crisp and clear as should be expected throughout. That said, the material that both are dealing with isn’t all that exceptional. With regards to the soundtrack, the rear channels are never used to any great effect despite the near continual musical accompaniment (everything from the O’Jays to Jimmy Cliff). As for the picture, the photography is decidedly mediocre and favours the whites in the palette thus coming across as rather chilly for a warm, fuzzy romcom. Of course, in both cases neither can be blamed on the disc’s manufacture and in this respect there are no problems to speak of.
There’s a similar effect with the extras as what first looks like an impressive collection actually amounts to very little. Indeed, there’s a host of featurettes, gag reel, deleted scenes and a music video but little in the way of substance. The promo for Amerie’s ‘1 Thing’ is standard R&B and should therefore be relegated to filler status alongside the cross-promotional trailers and belated gag reel (most of which is actual footage from the film rather than goof-ups). The three deleted scenes prove slightly more worthwhile, though the third of these is simply the same opening credits but with a different music cue (George Clinton’s score as opposed to Sam Cooke). Of the other two, the first receives a lengthy introduction from Andy Tennant to explain that it was cut for time, whilst the second has no context but would appear to have been shorn owing to the fact that it’s scatological humour would be far better suited to one of the American Pie instalments.
The remaining pieces, in the form of five featurettes, are more easy going and generally agreeable even if they don’t actually reveal all that much. Each focuses on a differing aspect – costume design, selection of locations, etc – with only the self-explanatory ‘The Dating Experts’ outstaying its welcome; by far the flimsiest offering, it also proves the longest at 11 minutes. Of course, it goes without saying that all five of these pieces could have found themselves excised from the disc with little discernible difference.
All special features come with optional English and Dutch subtitles.