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Dome Cinema 
Directed by Andy Tennant. Written by Kevin Bisch. Starring: Will Smith, Eva Mendes, Kevin James and Amber Valletta. 115 mins. USA.

Male-Friendly Romantic Comedy

By Ryan Macalino

There are many movies which immediately give the impression that watching them will surely be a waste of time. From my own experience, it seems that romantic comedies form the bulk of this banal heap. I hope I’m not alone in saying this, but males tend to avoid these movies like the plague. Typically for us, this genre is utilized only as the second half of a dinner-and-a-movie affair. While we are happy with the moments of intimacy that these movies would allow us, most of the time we are either too uncomfortable with the sappiness or just plain bored out of our wits.

Thankfully however, “Hitch” is something different. Aside from being funny, it is surprisingly charming, with characters that are interesting enough to keep both male and female audience members entertained. Overall it’s an excellent vehicle for Will Smith, who I guess is tired from blowing things up in his usual repertoire of action movies, with the most recent being “I, Robot”.

Smith plays Alex ‘Hitch’ Hitchins, a professional consultant with a business that relies solely on referrals. Known as the ‘Date Doctor’, he specializes in giving relationship advice and creating opportunities for single men to be with the women they love – and charging them handsomely for his services. His latest client is a dorky accountant named Albert (Kevin James), who falls in love with New York City’s most talked-about celebrity heiress, Allegra Cole (Amber Valletta). Hitch welcomes the immense challenge in hooking Albert up with his dream girl, and along the way he meets (and of course falls in love for) Sara, an investigative journalist assigned to cover the elusive Ms. Cole.

Seeing that this movie is a rom-com, it will undoubtedly have the expected clich?s associated with the genre. There are however, a few noteworthy points. Director Andy Tennant does a fairly safe job of directing the movie, but I really enjoyed the opening credits, which is kind of an infomercial for Hitch’s services. It’s snappy and funny, and it does a good job of establishing the main characters. Screenwriter Kevin Bisch also gives us a smart script that peppers the usual rom-com fare with hilarious situational comedy that some of us, male or female, can use as dating advice.

This ‘advice’ of course is more useful to the male audience, and just for this alone it is a great movie to take a date to (ignore the possible circularity in this statement). While the third act somehow slips into the regular predictability, the story is definitely entertaining (and/or informative) enough to get you through the whole movie. Besides, if that’s not enough, the soundtrack also boasts a great selection of R&B music, from Motown to hip-hop to neo-soul.

For the females reading this, persuasion is perhaps unnecessary. For the more discerning tastes in their romantic comedies, I reckon that it’s better than the standard fare, plus the movie also has merit in casting minorities for the leading roles while wisely not adhering to any racial angles. Rather, the appealing quality to this story is that the main characters all seem to be professionals who appear to be at the top of their game, yet also suffer from the same love problems as ‘us regular folk’.

The main draw for this movie is Will Smith, who really has a guaranteed audience. Here he plays against type, but reminds us that it is his charm that brings people to the box office. It seems as though the role was tailored specifically for Smith, and with him serving as Producer, it is very likely. The supporting cast does an admirable job, but this is clearly his show.

Overall this is a great date movie, one that both men and women will enjoy – especially those consider themselves a little more sophisticated in the dating game. A fair warning to female viewers: if there is a bone to pick with this movie, it is that while the clients who employ Hitch are inherently good, it seems that they only fall for women who are successful and stunningly beautiful. Who knows, maybe a sequel is in the works, featuring a female Date Doctor!

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