Hitch English Movie

Feature Film | 2005
Mar 23, 2005 By Subhash K. Jha

Am I just dreaming it, or is this really happening? Hollywood films have begun to look like replicas of their Bollywood counterparts!

Just as Clint Eastwood's "Million Dollar Baby" and Taylor Hackford's "Ray" echo Sanjay Leela Bhansali's "Black", we now have Andy Tennant's hit(ch) comedy about a date doctor, Will Smith, who gets a dose of his own medicine when he falls in love with a hard-nosed journalist during the course of his unusual research and medication,.

And when she's played by Eva Mendes, you know how hard-nosed she can be!

"Hitch" harks hilariously back to a 1975 Hindi comedy "Choti Si Baat" where Ashok Kumar played a "love specialist" who helps the gawky Amol Palekar to win the girl of his dreams, Vidya Sinha.

Cut to the suave, sassy and swift-speaking Will Smith who is to Hollywood cinema what Shah Rukh Khan is to Hindi films -- the spunky superstar whose ability to transcend his stardom makes him a better actor than he actually seems to be.

Smith is in fine fettle doing his love therapy, spewing bumper-sticker wisdom on love, dating and, ahem ahem, mating.

Then there is the kiss that Smith gets from one of his clients, unfortunately male, but nonetheless played with great gawkiness by Kevin James, whose mousy bespectacled inability to connect with his dream-woman Allegra (Amber Valletta) leads to corny complications... all ironed out before the final fade-out in the farce race.

But goodness gracious me! What lengths director Tennant goes to in order to expose the ludicrous angst of the suburban New Yorker who thinks he or she doesn't need love but is actually withering away in its absence.

Hence the date doctor... hence Will Smith's golden opportunity to be cute and quip-equipped without getting schmaltzy. He carries the film on his charisma. And that's where the problem really begins. Given the thinness of the narrative (wherein after a point the character don't grow, they just groan under the weight of the absurdities which are piled on to them in the effort to make Alex Hitch hitch up with the....er, never mind!) you are caught looking at Smith trying to seem more involved than his character allows him to.

Eva Mendes' character is pushy and ambitious beyond the call of duty. And you wonder what chemistry the screenwriter hoped to find between those two.

Halfway through, when the situation begins to slide downwards between both the couples (that's the way the cookie crumbles in all romantic comedies), you begin to wonder if the wafer-thin material is actually as watchable -- as it may outwardly seem thanks to the sparkling timing of the lead actor and those one-liners that flow fast and furiously.

Some of the situations written into the romance border on the clownish. At one point, Hitch acquires a skin allergy after eating a certain food, and rushes to the drug store to buy bottles of Benadryl, gets drunk on the cough syrup and makes true confessions to his journalist girlfriend.

Cough cough! And as though this bit of inventive writing isn't enough, you have Hitch showing his client-friend how to behave with his dream woman on a dream date. Here, the dance steps, the serious efforts to be frivolously flirty and the whole man-man thing about dating are too corny and over the top to be cute.

A date doctor who needs love is a terrific premise for a romantic comedy. But not when we get lines like, "Life is not about how many breaths you take, but the moments that leave you breathless."

Not too many of those in this one, I'm afraid. Don't count the bad-breath days in this romantic comedy. Just be thankful, we have some genuinely funny funky moments between Smith and his male co-star, though the same cannot be said about his cackling -- and I don't mean crackling! -- chemistry with his female co-star.

Years ago in "American Gigolo" Richard Gere played a gigolo who can't feel real love. Will Smith here plays a match maker who meets his match. Though there's no ignition,<

Subhash K. Jha