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Hitch (12A)



Review by: Jack Foley | Rating: Two

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Commentary with director Andy Tennant. Deleted scenes (30 mins). Outtakes. Six behind the scenes featurettes. Music video '1 Thing' by Amerie.

WILL Smith may be a newcomer to romantic comedy but given the feel-good factor surrounding his first attempt, it's fair to say he pulls it off without a hitch!

What's more, he doesn't hog the limelight, allowing each member of his emerging yet talented ensemble cast to bask in the glory of Kevin Bisch's endearing screenplay.

Smith 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 - no matter how ridiculous the match-up.

Hence, when Kevin James' meek accountant, Albert, becomes smitten with glamorous celebrity heiress Allegra Cole (Amber Valletta), Hitch takes on the challenge of turning the awkward romeo into the man of Allegra's dreams.

And this doesn't involve a personality change or a facelift, but rather enables Albert to relax and say the right things.

In between coaching Albert and performing his usual day-to-day duties, however, Hitch finds himself falling for the beautiful charms of Eva Mendes' cynical Sara Melas, a gossip columnist with her own relationship issues, who is also privy to all the latest celebrity news.

When Eva resolves to uncover the relationship doctor responsible for putting Allegra next to Albert, she inadvertently sets herself on a course to expose and destroy the one man capable of allowing her to drop her inhibitions about love.

The ensuing romantic comedy plays out in fairly predictable fashion, throwing in plenty of slapstick humour to offset some of the more sophisticated verbal courtships, while counting down to its inevitably schmaltzy conclusion.

But it works far better than most recent entries into the genre because of the charm of just about everyone involved.

Kevin James, especially, provides a wonderful comic foil for Smith, as well as a suitably hapless singleton whose blooming relationship with Valletta's heiress is skillfully developed and really worth rooting for (he has previously starred in US TV comedy, King of Queens).

While Smith, too, exudes an easy-going charm that is as vulnerable when dealing with his own feelings as he is assured when sorting out other people's. And he's not afraid to poke fun at himself.

But no one really feels left out, including Julie Ann Emery as one of Mendes' shy best friends.

Director, Andy Tennant, also strikes a near perfect balance between the differing types of humour he employs, allowing his actors the space to breathe, while poking fun at all of them at different junctions.

And his use of music and New York location also keeps things lively and viscerally engaging throughout.

Indeed, Hitch, the movie, proves as slick and alluring as Hitch, the character, given its ability to put a big sloppy smile on your face from the beginning and keep it there for pretty much all of its two-hour running time.

And while the finale is typically overblown and syrupy, Smith, Tennant, James and co still come right back at you with a genuinely hilarious dance sequence that will have viewers rolling out of the multiplex in fits of laughter.

Incurable romantics are therefore advised to take a double dose of this particular date doctor.

Click here to find out more about Hitch!

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