Some people believe that there’s one perfect person out there for everyone, and when you meet, you just know, this is the one for you. You’ll settle down, you’ll live happily ever after with the house in the suburbs, the happy kids, the whole nine yards. Alex Hitchens (Will Smith) isn’t one of those people. Don’t get me wrong, he wants you to fall in love, settle down, be happy, but he knows that love at first sight just doesn’t happen. You see Hitch knows women, he knows what they really mean when they say things, he knows what they really want when they say them, and he knows exactly what they’re waiting for you to say back. That’s why his business comes with a guarantee, if you employ Hitch as your dating consultant, within three dates he’ll have you at the front door, kissing the girl of your dreams. Where it goes from there, well, he offers no guarantees, he’s not running a service to get you into girls pants, but one that gives you a chance to get into their hearts. He breaks down the barriers, strips away the defence mechanisms, and just lets two people see each other for the people they really are, and that’s when they have that chance to fall in love.
His latest client is Albert (Kevin James), and he’s Hitch’s biggest challenge yet. Not because he’s ugly, or a complete social idiot - though he certainly has his moments - but because he’s set his sights very, very high. Albert is an accountant, and one of his clients is Allegra Cole (Amber Valletta) and she’s on every guest list in town. She’s rich, she’s famous, and she’s beautiful, and luckily she’s newly single after finding out (on the front page) her boyfriend had been cheating on her. How could a quiet, mild-mannered accountant have a chance with a woman like that? Of course, with Hitch’s help, it’ll be easy, right? Because Hitch knows everything about women... right? Then why is it when Hitch meets a woman - Sara (Eva Mendes) - he starts having problems winning her over as soon as he develops some real feelings for her?
Hitch is a date movie from start to finish, and it never tries to be anything but. As such the dual romantic storylines come straight out of the big book of obvious movie plots, though it is nice that the date doctor approach strays from the Cyrano Be Bergerac template by having Hitch and Albert after different women. Who knows who Kevin Bisch had in mind when he was writing the film, but it doesn’t seem like it could be any better tailored to Will Smith. Hitch is a man who survives on his charisma, it gets him women, it gets him clients, and he even has enough for it to rub off on his clients. Let’s face it, Will Smith is a man that has built a career on being charismatic, with even his rare dramatic turn in Six Degrees of Separation being a character that got what he wanted due to his charismatic - yet underhanded - ways, and as such there isn’t a better - or more believable - choice to play Hitch. Unfortunately the same can’t be said for all the rest of the cast. Eva Mendes is somewhat irritating, and leaves you with a sense of wonder, in that, or all the women in New York that Hitch could choose - and you’re never in any doubt he is a man that could have his pick - he could have done an awful lot better. Equally disappointing is the other romantic interest, as Amber Valletta completely fails to make an impression - though that seems to be a career standard for her, as a quick check on IMDB reveals no less than five other films this reviewer has seen her in, yet I remember her in none of them. It’s a role that really could have been filled by anyone, and you almost get the sense that whoever was in charge of casting felt the same way, as she doesn’t even seem to be trying to stand out.
Thankfully Will Smith doesn’t have to carry the movie alone (although that is something he can - and has had to - do before) as the relatively unknown (in the UK) Kevin James plays Albert fantastically well. He’s clearly a very funny guy, as Will Smith’s swan he manages to bring potentially difficult scenes to life, switching between an over the top physical comedian and a downtrodden guy in need of some confidence that you just can’t help rooting for. You know a guy like him never ends up with the girl, at least not this girl, and there’s a part of you that wants to believe that no matter how out of your league a girl may be, that there’s a way to win her over, just by being yourself. And it’s that hugely sentimental message that makes Hitch the best date movie in a long time. It might not have much in the way of originality, but its message couldn’t be more romantic, and its leading men couldn’t be more loveable. It’ll be a hard-hearted soul that sits through this without rooting for these guys, as they both learn the importance of letting people see the people they really are. Hitch the man might well give a guarantee of a kiss in three dates, but Hitch the movie should probably come with an even better one, or your money back.
The Picture and Sound
Hitch is a film that doesn’t break much new ground on any front, and that is something that extends to the movie’s presentation on DVD, as the anamorphic widescreen picture and Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack offer nothing you haven’t experienced a hundred times before with a big budget studio movie. The image is solid and well transferred, and the soundtrack is little more than a glorified stereo mix, leaving you glad you’ve got that copy of Saving Private Ryan dts stashed away to make you feel like your investment in home cinema was worthwhile.
A disappointing total of three deleted scenes make their way to the disc, and with that little it’s not surprising that you won’t find any revelations here. The most interesting is actually the alternate title sequence, which is presented with the original score by George Fenton. It’s often the small changes that make a big difference to a film, and it’s great to see how something as simple as a change of score can completely change the feel of a sequence.
Behind the Scenes Featurettes
There are a selection here, but most are simple filler. The one most worthy of attention is the Dance steps Made Easy featurette, which takes a look at Kevin James’s shamelessly bad dancing in the movie, which was easily one of the movie’s funniest moments. Other than that we get to hear from real life love doctors, watch Will Smith break a world record by appearing at 12 UK premieres for Hitch in one day (a nice publicity stunt that got the movie onto rather a lot of news reports) and learn about the costumes used in the film. None of which are particularly fascinating subjects, and you’ll be wondering exactly where the good features have been hidden. Sadly, they haven’t.
The disc also comes with trailers for Bewitched and Stealth, along with a Blooper Reel, which struggles to be worth three minutes of your time, and a very standard music video.
Hitch is a simple film, well made, well written, and well performed - by half the cast at least. Will Smith seems born to play a rom-com lead, and I’m sure it won’t be that long before he manages to squeeze another one of these in-between big-budget event movies, especially after the amount of money Hitch managed to rake in with its Valentine’s Day weekend release, there have to be some Hollywood producers waving pretty large cheques under his nose asking him to repeat that. Sadly the DVD gets little more than a cursory selection of extras, but if ever there was a film designed for renting it was this, and it ticks all the boxes for a great date movie, even if that isn’t the same thing as just a plain great film.