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By Michael Dequina | February 13, 2005

There are a few scary seconds in the beginning of “Hitch” where Will Smith stares into the camera and speaks to the audience. This is the laziest element a writer or director could ever dream of putting in a film. 2000’s High Fidelity is a perfect illustration of how wrong that practice really is. One of the purposes of watching a film is to be shown a story. Show us, don’t tell us. Narration works well in books (and even in films) but doesn’t translate well into a movie when they use a talking head staring you in the face, spouting off his or her thoughts. Thankfully for this movie, it stops shortly after it begins, as if the filmmakers knew they were making a mistake.

Hitch (Will Smith) is a professional “date doctor” that assists lame guys in getting the girls of their dreams. His newest client, Albert (Kevin James), is an over-weight man seeking to win the heart of one of his clients. Of course, much like his “King of Queens” lifestyle, the girl is a slender and rich beauty who wouldn’t notice him from a hole in the wall. With Hitch’s suggestion and aid, he breaks his withdrawn mold in the midst of a meeting with her and some of his company’s bigwigs, successfully gaining her attention.

Meanwhile, Hitch is working on someone for himself, a journalist (or a gossip columnist as she calls herself) played by Eva Mendes. Following his rules and practices with this woman doesn’t work out so well, though. Pretty much everything that could go wrong does. Things like kicking her in the face when he attempts to ride her jet ski or feeling the buzz of taking too much allergy medicine are the kind of disastrous things that accompany their dates.

The main problem with these romantic comedies, besides knowing how they will end of course, is that if you have seen one, you’ve pretty much seen them all. Recently, films like the tedious “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days” or the pitiful “Love Don’t Cost a Thing” tackled the same ground that this film does, but unlike those two films, “Hitch” does a fine job of staying away from an overage of boredom and sentimentality while providing a good mix of laughter along the way.

Chemistry amongst the characters also plays a big part here. Remember how awful Matthew McConaughey and Jennifer Lopez were in The Wedding Planner? What about Benjamin Bratt and Halle Berry in Catwoman? In this film, Will Smith works well with Eva Mendes. He also makes a great team with Kevin James, and James himself (even though he is once again playing along the lines of his sitcom character Doug) is out to prove that he can make it on the big screen. While he does crack on himself about his weight for the point of making the audience laugh, he doesn’t overdo it like Chris Farley.

The foulest thing about these types of films is that real life never offers us these perfect love/relationship scenarios that they suggest. Perhaps that is the reason these stories do so well, especially among the female audience. With “Hitch” however, the movie is too much fun for you to even care about the improbability of this circumstance.

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