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Time Out saysWill Smith has been stinking out the picture palaces recently (what’s known in the trade as ‘doing a Travolta’), with no ticks to his name since ‘Ali’, but ‘Hitch’ shows that you can’t keep an affable charmbucket down for long. Smith plays Alex Hitchens, a New York date-doctor who makes a neat buck teaching sloppy men how to tidy up and snare the gal of their dreams and above their station. Professional though he is, Hitch is as susceptible to love’s fickle bite as anyone, so when gossip queen Eva Mendes sashays across his path, the little charmer finds both his heart of stone and silver tongue have turned to mush.
Director Andy Tennant (‘Sweet Home Alabama’, ‘Anna and the King’) runs a tight ship when it comes to date pics, and here keeps attention away from the sinister aspects of Hitch’s trade, focusing instead on Smith’s slick clowning and using engaging goofball underdog Kevin James to offset the lead’s suaveness. Both are sitcom actors, James on ‘King of Queens’ and Smith with ‘Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’, and it’s their grounding in this medium – so much more sympathetic to breezy comedy acting than film – that gives the first half of this flick its quick wit and freshness. Mendes tries gamely to keep up, but it’s a tough call; supermodel Amber Valletta has a better time as James’s unlikely sweetheart. Tennant loses tempo towards the end as he tries to shoehorn in sufficient rom to temper the com, but by then we’ve seen enough from Smith to know he can – and will – milk this genre for all it’s worth.