Smith, James make a good match in "Hitch"
Like many movie stars, Will Smith has crafted and perfected an on-screen persona that's instantly recognizable — a breezy charm, an...
Seattle Times movie critic
Like many movie stars, Will Smith has crafted and perfected an on-screen persona that's instantly recognizable — a breezy charm, an unruffled coolness, a guy who always knows the right thing to say. And except for occasional forays into more challenging fare (such as his fine, Oscar-nominated work in "Ali"), Smith tends to stay within this comfort zone. Like Tom Cruise for much of his career, Smith's breeziness can get predictable — you want him to stretch himself a little more, and he's used it in service of a few too many lame blockbusters. But in "Hitch," Andy Tennant's slight but enjoyable romantic comedy, he's nicely matched with the material; his ease creates the movie's pleasant hum.
Smith plays Alex "Hitch" Hitchens, a sort of freelance Manhattan love shrink. Smooth and elegant (Smith wears clothes with the grace of a tall Fred Astaire), Hitch runs a thriving undercover business as a "date doctor" — a by-reference-only consultant on the art of wooing women. While busy assisting the shlubby-but-sweet accountant Albert (Kevin James), who's desperately in love with his glamorous client Allegra (Amber Valletta), Hitch receives a Cupid's arrow of his own in the form of Sara (Eva Mendes), a pretty gossip columnist who doesn't know his true identity.
"Hitch," with Will Smith, Eva Mendes, Kevin James, Amber Valletta, Michael Rapaport, Adam Arkin. Directed by Andy Tennant, from a screenplay by Kevin Bisch. 119 minutes. Rated PG-13 for language and some strong sexual references. Several theaters.
But the winning cast lifts the movie into the pleasant-diversion category. James, best known for his work on television's "Everybody Loves Raymond" and "The King of Queens," is the biggest surprise: He and Smith turn out to be an inspired comedy team, finding freshness in a white-men-can't-dance routine that could easily have been a yawn. The portly James dances like the proverbial Jell-O on springs, happily engrossed in his own silliness, while Hitch watches in horror.
Faint praise it may be, but those looking for a cute date movie this weekend could do far worse. As could Smith, for that matter.
Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or email@example.com