×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Hitch

Considerably heavier on romance than comedy, pic stitches together relatively few laughs but generates enough goodwill and energy to keep much of the audience in its corner. Given the notable dearth of quality fare in this genre, those attributes should strike Sony with Cupid's arrow in the form of reasonably happy date-night returns.

With:
Hitch - Will Smith Sara - Eva Mendes Albert - Kevin James Allegra - Amber Valletta Casey - Julie Ann Emery Ben - Michael Rapaport Max - Adam Arkin

Considerably heavier on romance than comedy, “Hitch” stitches together relatively few laughs but generates enough goodwill and energy to keep much of the audience in its corner. Although the script can’t sustain the premise — and saddles the actors with some truly leaden dialogue — a buoyant second-banana turn by Kevin James and the few chuckle-worthy moments help compensate for the arid stretches. Given the notable dearth of quality fare in this genre, those attributes should strike Sony with Cupid’s arrow in the form of reasonably happy date-night returns.

Director Andy Tennant knows about romantic comedies longer on star appeal than smarts, what with “Fools Rush In” and “Sweet Home Alabama” on his resume. “Hitch” plods along on similar terrain, albeit with the additional boon of James’ Gleason-esque antics — a big, round, sweetly spirited lug who is awfully light on his toes.

In the process, “The King of Queens” star somewhat eclipses Will Smith as the smooth-talking “date doctor” — a near-urban legend, available by referral only, who coaches bumbling guys through the art of romance. The twist, of course, is that Alex “Hitch” Hitchens becomes all thumbs himself once faced with peeling away the hard shell of a comely gossip columnist, Sara (Eva Mendes), who turns his dating maxims upside down.

An opening sequence mixing Smith’s voiceover with him directly addressing the camera offers a taste of Hitch’s magic, but he takes on an especially challenging project when he tries to help a shy accountant, Albert (James), woo a beautiful jet-setting heiress, Allegra (Amber Valletta).

This isn’t to say Hitch lacks a moral code. Indeed, he only opens the door for nice guys lacking the moves to woo a woman, refusing to assist a Wall Street sleaze who has conquest, not romance, in mind. Like Sara, though, he’s resistant to love himself, still cautious from a courtship-inflicted wound years before.

It’s all rather wispy, and first-time screenwriter Kevin Bisch struggles with the juggling act of keeping the central couple apart and then bringing them back together, aided by the almost-saving grace of having the Albert-Allegra storyline to fall back on.

Beyond his hangdog demeanor, James exhibits a flair for physical comedy, and the scenes of Smith prepping him for dates — if a little overexposed by the ad campaign — actually possess considerably more verve than either of the romantic pairings. In the best moment, Albert walks Allegra toward her door bracing for their much-rehearsed first kiss looking much like a guy being marched to a firing squad.

Smith branches out a little here, to the extent that this latest role is devoid of accompanying explosions, while Mendes charms the camera with an ease that exceeds her thinly drawn character. Nor is there much fleshed-out support, with what amount to cameos by Adam Arkin and Michael Rapaport as Sara’s tabloid editor and Hitch’s married pal, respectively.

As in many a romantic comedy, the juiciest supporting player is Manhattan, a backdrop that goes a long way toward setting the mood, along with George Fenton’s score. And while the film drags noticeably during its flabby closing act, the cast provides pleasant enough company to survive the Hallmark-card speeches that run through it.

All told, “Hitch” plays like the oldest of old-fashioned romantic comedies, which would be worth celebrating if only it was slightly better at it. Then again, just as love-seeking bar patrons tend to lower their standards as the clock approaches midnight, in these laugh-challenged times, it’ll do.

Popular on Variety

Hitch

Production: These credits were updated on Feb. 7, 2005.
A Sony Pictures Entertainment release of a Columbia Pictures presentation of an Overbrook Entertainment production. Produced by James Lassiter, Will Smith, Teddy Zee. Executive producers, Michael Tadross, Wink Mordaunt. Directed by Andy Tennant. Screenplay, Kevin Bisch.

Crew: Camera (Technicolor), Andrew Dunn; editors, Troy Takaki, Tracey Wadmore-Smith; music, George Fenton; production designer, Jane Musky; art director, B. Patricia Woodbridge; set decorator, Ellen Christiansen; costume designer, Marlene Stewart; sound (Dolby/SDDS/DTS), T.J. O'Mara; special effects supervisor, Conrad Brink; assistant director, Scott Printz; casting, Kathleen Chopin. Reviewed at Sony Studios, Culver City, Feb. 3, 2005. MPAA Rating: PG-13. Running time: 117 MIN.

Cast: Hitch - Will Smith Sara - Eva Mendes Albert - Kevin James Allegra - Amber Valletta Casey - Julie Ann Emery Ben - Michael Rapaport Max - Adam Arkin

More Scene

  • Anne Hathaway Modern Love

    Anne Hathaway Talks Mental Health Awareness, Playing a Bipolar Woman on Amazon's 'Modern Love'

    In Amazon Prime’s upcoming “Modern Love,” Anne Hathaway sheds light on an important facet of living with mental health issues, playing a bipolar woman who struggles with dating. “We’re all becoming more sensitive, wiser and more cognizant of gentility, and especially emotional gentility. I think those conversations are starting to happen. And I think the desire [...]

  • Margot Robbie, Nicole Kidman, Charlize Theron.

    Charlize Theron Could Win Second Oscar for Playing Megyn Kelly in 'Bombshell'

    Charlize Theron walked on stage before a screening of “Bombshell” at West Hollywood’s Pacific Design Center on Sunday night and announced to the crowd, “I’m about to s— myself.” The Oscar winner had good reason to be nervous. The screening of the Jay Roach-directed drama about the fall of Fox News boss Roger Ailes was [...]

  • Charlize Theron speaks at the GEANCO

    Charlize Theron Talks 'White Privilege,' Growing Up During Apartheid in South Africa

    Charlize Theron, during an onstage discussion with her “Gringo” costar David Oyelowo about philanthropy at Thursday’s annual fundraiser for Nigerian children’s educational and health program GEANCO, said she was a beneficiary of “white privilege” while growing up in Apartheid-torn South Africa. “I obviously am a white person who benefited from my white privilege,” Theron said [...]

  • Lyliana Wray, Sam Ashe Arnold, Miya

    ‘Are You Afraid of the Dark’ Revival Team on Living Up to the Series’ Legacy

    The 2019 revival of “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” centers around the Carnival of Doom, a place that star Jeremy Ray Taylor (“It Chapter Two”) describes as “beautiful on the outside, but…in the middle of it, there are definitely dark secrets. Variety caught up with the young star during a carnival-themed celebration at Row DTLA [...]

  • Charlize Theron'The Addams Family' film premiere,

    Charlize Theron Speaks Immigration, Diversity in ‘The Addams Family’

    They’re creepy, they’re kooky, and they’re an allegory for immigration in America.  Charlize Theron discussed the changing face of the nuclear family and her animated film, “The Addams Family,” with Variety at the movie’s recent premiere at the Century City Mall in Los Angeles. “When you think of [the Addams] being around since the sixties, [...]

  • Emma Stone attends the Los Angeles

    Emma Stone Talks 'Cruella' Transformation, New 'Zombieland' Sequel

    Despite inevitable comparisons to Glenn Close’s iconic turn as Cruella de Vil in 1996’s “101 Dalmatians,” Emma Stone teased that her take on the infamous villain in the upcoming “Cruella” movie will be very distinctive. “It comes long before her story,” Stone told Variety at the premiere of “Zombieland: Double Tap” at the Regency Village [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content