Written by: Kevin Bisch
Starring: Will Smith, Eva Mendes, Kevin James, Amber Valletta, Michael Rapaport, Adam Arkin
Sparking an attraction and sustaining it with another person does not come with a specific formula seeing as human beings represent such volatile variables. Tips can help, but it all comes down to the compatibility of the pair. The titular character in Hitch attempts to create said formula and while the original idea of this feature feels a bit misogynistic, it ensures to bring it all together with its resounding message and humor.
Alex Hitchens (Will Smith) has prided himself as the “love doctor” where, for a fee, he can help set up a desperate man with the woman of his dreams if his steps are followed. His methods get put to the ultimate test when accountant, Albert Brennaman (Kevin James) requests Hitch to set him up with big-time celebrity, Allegra Cole (Amber Valletta).
Starting out with the three principles he has to match up any bachelor with the woman of his dreams, Hitch begins with the assertion that a little manipulation can go a long way for setting up a happily ever after. In a broad sense, sure, it has some sweetness but when you think about it with even the slightest bit of thought, it feels incredibly gross. When dating, people manipulate who they really are at first because everyone wants to put their very best and flawless foot forward. However, when it all becomes a process where a consultant gets hired to do so, it makes the action feel ickier. This could have immediately sunk this film, but the beauty lies in the narrative completely deconstructing everything Hitch teaches at the beginning in a really sweet way.
Most of the charm of this feature comes from Will Smith. At the height of his powers, Smith could elevate nearly any film he found himself in and he very much accomplishes this with his character of Hitch. The man oozes charisma and he helps take a fairly misogynistic character and make him incredibly likable. Certainly, there are moments helping his case when dealing with other aggressively misogynistic characters the film has to offer, but he goes through a learning process, just as much as his pupil, Albert, does. Smith brings this educative, firm, but also incredibly humorous approach to his work and you almost have to admire how much the actor instills the belief that Hitch believes his methods work the best for all parties. As he says throughout the film, he just needs to get the guy to the first kiss, which is where it all becomes about if the two can work.
The ultimate challenge this film posits is for Hitch to bring together an accountant and a celebrity. The equivalent of any random guy asking to be matched up with Angeline Jolie. Now, I know, Albert has more of a connection to Allegra because he works for her investment firm but the casting knew what they were doing. Kevin James does not fit the conventional handsome male archetype sold by character, which made it such a difficult proposition to set him up with someone who looks like Amber Valletta. Hitch’s methods work but it all comes down to the two people and the film beautifully wraps up what this means when it comes to Albert and Allegra.
With Albert’s journey taking up part of the film, Hitch, as a feature, seeks to have a larger discussion about love and the boundaries in the way of it being successful. It explains why Hitch operates his business the way he does. We see things through his eyes and then with tabloid journalist Sara Melas (Eva Mendes). Someone who’s perpetually single because she does not have the time to mess around and date. Through Sara, we see the struggles of being a single woman in New York along with her friend Casey (Julie Ann Emery). Combining the two allows for some fascinating dissection about the little things occurring in conversations appearing as courtship. The initial conversation between Hitch and Sara breaks it down and demonstrates the instant chemistry Will Smith and Eva Mendes have in this feature. Looking deeper into this conversation would certainly be a rabbit hole to explore even if the film could have gone deeper.
As a comedy, this film never shies away from being completely goofy. The finest moments definitely come in Hitch coaching Albert in how to best woo Allegra and some of those moments I will never forget because of the number of times I’ve seen it. A classic, for me, comes when Hitch preps Albert for the date at the nightclub and especially in mentoring for what the dancing would look like. “Don’t need no pizza. They got plenty of food there,” is simply one of my favorite quotes this film has to offer. Humor also appears with Hitch trying to court Sara and how he messes up badly on several occasions with her. It’s great to see the smooth-talking protagonist screw up in ways he would yell at his clients, which further begins to break down his supposed ironclad methods. I mean, kicking your date off of a jetski on the Hudson River must be on a list of worst first date ideas.
Dating out in the adult world is nothing but a game and one I have luckily been able to avoid but Hitch hopes to break it down and why someone like him is needed to create opportunities. As a younger teen, I thought this film was much deeper, but its heart remains in the right place even in the places it stumbles. It brings plenty of humor while raising the impact love can have on an individual to the point where they can barely get the words out of their mouth. This film will forever be one of my go-to’s and it surprisingly still holds up well.