A review of “Hitch” by Jeanne Aufmuth

 

Stars: ** 1/2

Rating: PG-13 for language and mature themes

Run Time: 1 hour, 41 minutes

 

 

Will Smith is one of those rare performers who consistently transcend their material. Silly or contrived subject matter is no match for his charismatic screen presence.  And the guy is hot to boot.

A wry comedy that debunks the dating mystique is a promising premise but falls more or less into the contrived category.  Smith is Alex “Hitch” Hitchens, a New York “Date Doctor” who specializes in helping lovelorn guys land their gals.

A number of sly subplots, including a truly funny turn by Kevin James as a nebbish CPA who’s fallen for a celebrity heiress, revolve around the main event -- Hitch himself going mushy for rag columnist Sara Melas (Eva Mendes).  Since gossip never sleeps Sara is a hardcore workaholic not to mention a commitment-phobe with a heart of steel.

They don’t call him a date doctor for nothing.  Hitch cures what ails in the heart department (with sardonic but spot-on observations of the gentler sex) while clumsily navigating his own quixotic conundrum.  The biggest laughs are at his expense; puffed beyond recognition from a seafood allergy or surviving a train wreck of a date (“with flair”) with the unflappable Sara.  

Witty repartee cozies up to a flimsy plotline rendering the result vapidly amusing. A steady stream of romantic bromides (“Any man has a chance to sweep any woman off her feet – he just needs the right broom”) lend comic panache when the vitals start to stall.

Smith charms his way through piled-on platitudes and social faux-pas’ with his groove intact.  He and Mendes make comfortable chemistry but little sizzle. Every inch tall, dark and handsome Smith blithely ignores the fact that his classic date movie wraps up with a clunker of a climax, in other words not without a hitch.