Hitch
Grade: B-
Year: 2005
Director: Andy Tennant
Writer: Kevin Bisch
Genre: Comedy
Rated: PG-13
By Scott Spicciati

Like so many film characters, the occupation of our main hero is exactly what his name implies. It's a good thing his name isn't John McCrack, Bobby Weedington or Tony MassMurderer-Shoemaker, because the we'd have an entirely different film on our hands.

His name is Alex Hitchens (Will Smith) and he's a date doctor. A cool smooth-talking player of sorts who claims he can get any guy to get any girl he wants. It's a science, you see, and Hitch has written the book on dating.

His newest project is a junior accountant named Albert (TV's Kevin James), a man who's going to need a lot of work if ever expects to shed his bachelor status. He has fallen for the very rich, very beautiful but very available Allegra (Amber Valletta), an airess to a major fortune who just broke up with -- if I heard correctly -- the owner of some country, and is ripe for the picking.

But Albert is neither rich nor very attractive. He has the tendency to spill whatever he's trying to eat onto his shirt, and when he gets nervous, has trouble breathing and reaches for his inhaler. Hitch will coach Albert (armed with foresight and Google) on the necessary steps it will take to get Allegra to fall for this lovable teddy bear that is Albert.

And besides, if we can buy that James was able to hook himself up with Leah Remini as a package deliveryman on "The King of Queens," surely a successful accountant -- albeit extremely clumsy and one who lacks all confidence -- can bag the ex-girlfriend of some guy who owned his own country.

But while Hitch believes there is no challenge too great to help his clients overcome, he's been having a few problems on the domestic front. Usually a shoe-in with the ladies, Hitch has been having his own problems with a woman he's attracted to. Her name is Sara (Eva Mendes), and is the senior gossip columnist at The New York Standard, which can only mean the stories of our characters will somehow intertwine and that something bad will happen at the end before it ultimately must get better.

It's that autopilot problem these films have, and one must decide if the humor is worth ignoring the hackneyed plot devices, and certainly Will Smith's presence helps if you're a Will Smith fan the way I am and had no problem being dragged for the ride.

And I had a feeling that director Andy Tennant and screenwriter Kevin Bisch banked on that belief the whole time. The story isn't really plausible but audiences will laugh as two intelligent comedians make fools of themselves trying to pick up women.

While I have no doubts that Will Smith will continue to land major Hollywood roles in the future, I hope this venture has been a good career move for James who has the talent and screen presence to continue making us laugh long after the days of "The King of Queens."

The chemistry between Smith and James far outweighs whatever exists between Smith and Mendes, and certainly between James and Valleta, but to say one must suspend their beliefs would be an exaggeration, after all the message of the film is that it doesn't matter who you are but what you do in the crucial few moments you have before a girl to make a lasting impression on her; one that will get you at least one date and hopefully more if you know what's good for you.

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