‘Hitch’ has just one catch
Suggesting that “Hitch” is a movie that works on different levels is giving it an awful lot of credit.Still, there are a couple of things to consider. As an example of a genuinely funny romantic comedy and proof of Will Smith’s charisma, it works well. But viewers looking for one of those occasional Valentine’s Day classics that rise above their own formula – and their own breezy natures – might find the long-winded “Hitch” comes up short on the endurance scale.Smith stars as date doctor Alex “Hitch” Hitchens, and he’s such a natural fit for the role it’s hard to imagine anybody else filling it, much less filling it as well. Since it’s also his most accessible role to date – after a multitude of action movies, broad comedies and a biopic of the iconic Muhammad Ali – it might be his best performance.Instead of being a kind of reverse-pimp, Hitch takes only heart-of-gold clients like Albert Brenneman (actor-comedian Kevin James), a big guy with his eyes on an even bigger goal, heiress Allegra Cole (Amber Valletta). Just as easy as it would have been to make Smith play Hitch a manipulative player-by-proxy, James could make Brenneman a big boob playing out of his league. While “Hitch” doesn’t exactly go for subtle, Smith and James show admirable restraint, and the result is often laugh-out-loud funny without going too far over the top.The main reason I don’t think “Hitch” will stand up as an instant romantic-comedy classic, though, is that it tries to wring too much out of a pretty good concept and two fine performances from two pitch-perfect actor-comedians. Or, more simply, as good as James and Smith are in their roles, there’s just not enough in the tank for the movie to last nearly two hours.It’s almost possible to see the transformation. In the beginning of “Hitch” it’s just so much fun to watch Smith detail Hitch’s matchmaking – which reminded me of Smith’s breakthrough performance as a con artist in “Six Degrees of Separation” – and James establish Albert as a big, awkward, funny accountant who fulfills all the criteria of being a dork but ultimately doesn’t make the cut. Somewhere toward the middle, it just runs out of ideas and reverts to romantic-comedy mode. And toward the end, the movie starts relying on contrivances, sight gags and engineered misunderstandings to get to the finish line. And I could see that working if only it didn’t take so long to get there.So while there’s a lot to love in the movie, which came out on Valentine’s Day, there’s a catch to “Hitch”: It comes up short on substance and clocks in about 45 minutes too long.
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