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Hitch - Preview & US reaction



Preview by: Jack Foley

ROMANTIC comedy Hitch is notable for representing Will Smith's first proper venture into romantic comedy - and early word from America seems to suggest that he has got the formula right.

The charismatic actor plays Alex 'Hitch' Hitchens, a legendary - and deliberately anonymous - New York City 'date doctor' who, for a fee, has helped countless men woo the women of their dreams.

While in the middle of coaching Albert (Kevin James, of TV's King of Queens), a meek accountant who is smitten with a glamorous celebrity, Allegra Cole (Amber Valletta), Hitch finally meets his match in the person of Sara Melas (Eva Mendes), a gossip columnist who follows Allegra's every move.

However, as Hitch struggles to take his own advice and begins to fall madly in love with Sara, she is determined to become the reporter responsible for unmasking Manhattan's most famous date doctor.

The film is billed as a sophisticated comedy that gleefully mixes slapstick humour, with something a little more grown-up for all viewers.

Ironically, it was originally touted as a star vehicle for both Smith and Jennifer Lopez, before Halle Berry also cropped up as a potential on-screen partner.

There were also reportedly several re-writes, which might suggest why some of the American critics had a few misgivings.

On the whole, though, the film - which is directed by Andy Tennant - seems to have delivered the perfect Valentine's treat for US audiences.

US reaction

The word from America was as follows...

The Philadelphia Inquirer led the favourable reviews by stating: "For women, it purveys the dream that men really, really care about what they think. For men, it holds out the fantasy that babes are attracted to geeky men who really, really care about what they think. What's not to like?"

While the New York Times put the case against, by describing it as 'an average romantic comedy, starring Will Smith and Eva Mendes, that is as soft and sweet as a marshmallow, and about as interesting'.

Caught inbetween was the Washington Post, which observed that 'you know what's being fed to you and yet you slurp it down just the same'.

Newsday, meanwhile, opted for a negative outlook, stating that 'the sour subplot, in which Sara's dark side mistakes Hitch for a cad, staggers to a gummy resolution, throwing a wet-blanket reminder that romantic comedy - indeed, romance itself - isn't what it used to be'.

While the Hollywood Reporter lamented that 'everything about Hitch seems off'.

As did Entertainment Weekly, which opined that 'it makes nerds and studs alike so noble that it turns the chase into a neutered game'.

But more positive was USA Today, which felt that 'director, Andy Tennant, is actor-friendly throughout, giving his performers (including a sweet turn by Julie Ann Emery as Mendes' best friend) a chance to breathe in their roles'.

While the Los Angeles Times wrote that 'Smith is a gifted comic actor, and seeing him in a lighthearted comedy, his first romantic lead, is a pure pleasure'.

And the Dallas Morning News completes this round-up by stating: "How reassuring to realize that happy surprises are still possible. Hitch is one of the happiest."

The film opens in the UK on March 4.

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