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Will Smith has done pretty well for himself considering his small-screen roots. I guess from an early age it was clear that he exuded charisma and it was only a matter of time before hit made it big, but I’m not sure I ever expected the Fresh Prince to play Ali, and after seeing it I’m not sure I can think of anyone (but Muhammed himself) who could have done it any better. He has come a long way, with a broad range of thoroughly enjoyable films—from Bad Boys to Enemy of the State, Independence Day to Men In Black. Recently he did the superior Asimov sci-fi actioner I, Robot and now he gets to play the new Millennium’s answer to cupid—Hitch, the love doctor.

Hitch
Film
Spouting statistics about relationships between men and women, Hitch kicks off showing us the Alex Hitchins in action. Marrying up three odd couples through seemingly divine intervention, he believes that any man can get any woman he wants given the opportunity to shine in that one magical moment that makes or breaks a romance. His latest client is Albert Brennaman, a portly accountant who is desperately in love with his client, who also happens to be a glamorous celebrity. But in the midst of all this matchmaking, the love doctor himself stumbles upon a girl who might just be his match.

Hitch is a sweet, warm romantic comedy with quite a smart, interesting easy-to-relate-to edge that should make men happier to watch what is essentially a bit of a ‘chick flick’. You see, there are so many scenes that both sexes will personally recognise throughout the movie. But when all is said and done, it never really breaks from that Rom-Com mould of two people getting together, breaking up seemingly irreparably—and normally through vast misunderstandings—and then resolving their differences miraculously before the credits roll. It makes you feel good, it tries to make everything right with the world for the ten minutes after you finish watching, but it does little else. It is not necessarily a criticism—after all that is what you really expect from a movie like this—it is just a warning not to think that perhaps the presence of Will Smith might make it particularly special.

Will Smith is a great actor—as I’ve already stated—but his choice to do Hitch is somewhat strange. I suppose that it is no worse that Men In Black 2 but it is certainly not as entertaining as most of his other efforts and certainly not a stretch of his acting skills. His central character, Alex Hitchins, is a twist on the standard romantic comedy lead who is normally of the self-depreciating Ben Stiller/Adam Sandler variety, rather than the coolest guy on the planet. Hitchins is a modern day Fonze—there is simply nothing that he can do wrong, until of course he meets the love of his life, but even then he is pretty cool. This is a character we should really hate—like Owen Wilson’s slick, smarmy cameo persona in the Meet the Parents films—but somehow Smith manages to make him likeable. It is unusual for the central character to seemingly have no faults but, that said, it is worth noting that one of the funniest scenes involves Hitchins’ goofy teen antics—perhaps a little more self-depreciation wouldn’t have gone astray but maybe Will Smith can’t afford to do that.

Hitch
Eva Mendes plays Smith’s love interest and does a commendable job as the determined ‘independent’ woman whose career and personal lives clash in the extreme. She’s a lovely actress but I haven’t really seen her extend her acting talents a great deal—after starring in the abysmal Fast and the Furious sequel, the solid Denzel Washington thriller Out of Time and now this, a reasonable but fairly unadventurous role. Hitchins’ client Albert Brennaman is played by relative newcomer Kevin James, who does a remarkably good job in the role considering I don’t think I’ve come across him before. Although not coming close to touching Smith’s position as lead, he is still sparklingly funny in some sequences and will probably offer a more realistic role model for many to relate to, juxtaposed with Smith’s film-star image. The light in Brennaman’s life, Allegra, is played by the chic Amber Valletta who brings nothing particularly new to the movie but does her bit perfectly well. She can soon be seen playing the romantic lead in the sequel to the solid Jason Statham actioner—with some excellent martial arts sequences—The Transporter.

Overall it’s a nice little date movie that should appeal to both sexes but is unlikely to stay in the minds of either. There are some scenes that will have you chuckling, though seldom is anything particularly laugh-out-loud funny but, although things get a bit predictable towards the end, the pre-end-credits dancing sequence will at least put one last smile on your face. Nothing special but nothing unpleasant, it’s just another romantic comedy that deserves a six but gets bumped up to a seven for that feel-good feeling.

Video
Hitch is presented in a very broad 2.40:1 aspect ratio anamorphically enhanced widescreen format—occasionally seeming a little too broad considering the content. That said, it never really takes away from your enjoyment of the movie. This is a really odd transfer because some scenes exhibit excellent detail—like the rain sequence—whilst others, mostly the bar scenes, seem overwhelmed by softness. I can only assume that this was done on purpose, and certainly the main characters are in focus in the foreground, but everything around them seems smudged and it can be a little annoying. Thankfully there is very little grain and this is generally a good transfer otherwise, with a broad colourful New York palette that is well depicted at all times, and solid blacks throughout.

Hitch
Audio
There is one basic track, a solid Dolby Digital 5.1 track that is heavily biased towards the score, maintaining music almost throughout and through all of the surrounds. But even with the decent representation of the frequent song tracks and score, it still subsides as necessary to allow the dialogue to take the centre stage and thus remain clear. There are very few special effects—as you would expect, but it is still quite a chirpy little track that does all the right things at all the right times even if it never really breaks any boundaries. There is also an English Audio Descriptive track.

Extras
First up there are five ‘full-screen’ featurettes. ‘Dance Steps Made Easy’ takes an eight minute look at the dancing scenes in the movie, with interviews from the cast—mainly Will Smith—and behind the scenes footage of some of the dance scenes being filmed. Director Andy Tennant talks about Will Smith’s grace in letting another actor steal the movie—although I have no idea what he was talking about—this was Smith’s movie! They look like they had a real laugh whilst filming the sequences—something emphasised by the gag reel. Kevin James takes us through his dance moves and this featurette is quite funny really. ‘Love in New York’ spends seven minutes looking at the setting of New York and the romance in the movie. We get the crew talking about their experiences in New York, some behind the scenes footage and some on-screen statistics about the Big Apple. The director talks about being proud to film on Ellis Island and how a movie about thirty-somethings dating simply must be set in New York. Although not really as funny, it is a perfectly harmless little featurette with some more nice snippets and very little footage from the film—always a plus. We even get Amber Valetta briefly talking about the boat scene. Hitch Style spends seven minutes looking at the wardrobe of the various characters—mainly focussing on Will Smith’s character but also featuring interviews with the costume designers and some of the other cast talking about their looks. ‘The Dating Experts’ is an eleven minute featurette about the ‘basic dating principles’, featuring interviews with Will Smith along with an on-set dating consultant/therapist who talks about the reality behind the interactions depicted. Starting off quite light-hearted it soon becomes sickly sweet and patronising as successive ‘life coaches’ dictate what you should or shouldn’t do to be successful in a relationship. The final featurette is’ Will Smith’s Red Carpet Race’, which spends a brief four minutes taking a semi-humorous look at Will Smith’s attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the most public appearances in twelve hours by a film star. Starting in Manchester, he jets around the UK to Birmingham (a trip which would have probably been shorter by car) and then on to London. We get a few snippets of dialogue from Smith as he rushes around—and when he receives his record certificate from Guinness—but this is largely just a lot of shots of Hitch gala premieres. Still, it’s a novel take on regular footage from premieres.

Hitch
The four-minute gag reel showcases a collection of outtakes from the movie, some of which are really quite funny. Starting with a montage of brief goofs, we progress into some longer mistakes that aren’t very funny, but then there are some line fluffs and a series of bleeped swearing outtakes—mostly featuring Will Smith – and some really funny improvisations. Not the best gag reel I have seen—and possibly not as funny as the pseudo-gag reel at the end of the film, it is still worth a watch.

There are three deleted scenes, with the option to play all and introduced by the director—who explains why they were removed. ‘Hitch sees Cressida’ is a three-minute scene giving him closure on the girl who broke his heart in high school. It’s quite a poignant scene that is also quite funny, but I can see why they removed it. ‘I Could Use A Bathroom’ is an unnecessary three-minute inclusion and ‘Film Opening’ with George Fenton score, which is a poorer opening sequence that is also odd because it does not include vocals.

The music video for ‘1 Thing’ by Amerie is quite a nice little video by an upcoming relatively new artist. Although I don’t normally rate these kinds of songs, it’s quite catchy and still unusual—and is a pretty sexy music video to boot. Finally we get five trailers for movies that would potentially appeal to the target audience for Hitch but oddly not including a theatrical trailer for the main feature itself. Bewitched is the new Will Ferrell movie, who was pretty damn funny in Anchorman, Are We There Yet? shows you what has become of Ice Cube, Man of the House shows you what has happened to Tommy Lee Jones, Little Black Book features the remarkably adaptable and gorgeous Brittany Murphy doing a pointless fluffy role and Spanglish is a sweet little romantic comedy drama with the increasingly broad-ranged Adam Sandler.

Hitch
Overall
Hitch is a warm romantic comedy that pushes all of the right buttons and offers many a scene or piece of advice that most of us can relate to. With another decent performance by Will Smith, not really having to stretch himself, and some solid support by Eva Mendes, it is a perfect date movie. That said, it will not really require much brain activity nor is it likely to stay in your mind for any duration of time. This release offers a reasonable transfer and solid sound, with an average if unexceptional bunch of extras. If you particularly adore romantic comedies, this one will fit nicely into your collection, but otherwise it’s worth a rental only first to check it out.


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