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Hitch - Will and I had had a whole conversation about every time the movie goes soft, or romantic, we've got to go funny



Feature by: Jack Foley

ROMANTIC comedies very rarely appeal to guys as much as girls, which makes Hitch all the more special for doing so.

"It's a buddy comedy masquerading as a romantic comedy," explains director, Andy Tennant.

"It's great to be able to cut from good fun stuff with Eva and Will to scenes with Kevin and Will - they have such great chemistry."

Hence, the movie finds Will Smith as a New York date doctor who helps men to woo and win the women of their dreams, while simultaneously trying to sort out his own love life.

It works on two levels - as both a romantic comedy between Smith and Eva Mendes' sceptical gossip columnist, and as a buddy comedy in which Smith helps the bumbling Kevin James to attract the object of his desire in the beautiful form of Amber Valletta.

As such, it balances moments of laugh-out loud humour with the sort of romantic sentiment that's designed to appeal to both sexes no matter how sceptical they may initially feel.

"Will and I had had a whole conversation about every time the movie goes soft, or romantic, we've got to go funny - soft/romantic, kick her in the head; soft/romantic blow up his face," continues Tennant.

"And so that became a mantra and we realised at the end of the movie that we didn't want them to kiss and it's over.

"So we shot the wedding dance sequence because I think you forgive whatever shortcomings the movie has - and it has plenty - because when they're dancing and being goofy, why would you hate it? Nobody's saying it's anything great, it's just fun!"

It's hard to believe, then, that shooting the film was one of the most hectic and stressful experiences of Tennant's career.

"Will and I - we didn't clash - but we fought every day," he continued.

"We threw out the script every morning - I mean we never shot a scene that was written. We re-wrote it, we kind of broke it down and de-constructed it in the rehearsal process.

"It was so frustrating for me, but I could never at the end of the day disagree that the scene we shot was better than the scene we planned to shoot. It became kind of this runaway train.

"I felt like a salmon swimming up-stream; it was like, I'm trying to make the movie that's up here and if I get there I'm going to die, so I might as well just turn around and go with the flow this way. I didn't even know what we had until... so when I first saw the movie it was like 'oh, this doesn't suck'."

The result far from sucks and has since become one of the biggest romantic comedies of all-time in America, where it enjoyed a two-week stint at the top of the box office, despite strong competition from the likes of Keanu Reeves' Constantine.

For Tennant alone, it marks his biggest commercial success as a director and has possibly opened the door to plenty more projects.

But would he work with Smith again?

"I wouldn't have," he laughs, candidly. "But I have a memo that I wrote to myself that is about the next time you work with Will let's just remember... it's like being pregnant actually.

"The baby comes out and it's a beautiful $170 million baby and you go 'that's great, let's do that again'. You forget the pain of the pregnancy depending on the baby that's born. So I wrote a memo about all the zany, crazy shit that went down.

"But I would do it again because what happened was, it was the month of learning the process and him not trusting me and me not trusting him that caused some of the chaos.

"Once I turned around and swam down-stream with the flow, however, it was exhilarating. It was fun and it was scary but that was part of the kind of beauty of it - I did know at the end of every difficult day that we had beat the dragon and the dragon hadn't beat us.

"I did not end the day thinking 'wow, you really fucked that one up'."

 

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