Hitch US Theatrical Release: February 11, 2005 (Columbia Pictures) US DVD Release: June 14, 2005 Running Time: 1:58:08 (28 chapter stops) Rating: PG-13 (Language And Some Strong Sexual References) Video: 2.40:1 Anamorphic (Extra Features: 4:3 non-anamorphic) Audio: English DD5.1, French DD2.0 (Extra Features: English DD2.0) Subtitles: English, French (Extra Features: None) TV-Generated Closed Captions: English Menus: Background Animation Packaging: Standard keepcase with cardboard slipcover; single-sheet insert has cover images for other titles on both sides. MSRP: $28.95 THE WAY I FEEL ABOUT IT: 3/5 In Hitch, a stellar cast does its best with a script that saddles some moderately clever romantic comedy with dialogue that’s pedestrian at best. The concept is a good one, but most of the lines feel like they belong in a TV sitcom, not a big-budget film. Fortunately, the overwhelming charisma of the players carries what could have been a train wreck in the hands of a less capable ensemble. Alex “Hitch” Hitchens (Will Smith, charming as ever) is the urban-legendary Date Doctor of New York, a consultant who offers his services to single guys who don’t have much luck with the ladies. Working on a referral basis only, he finds no shortage of clients in the big city. An opening montage reveals a procession of schlubs who hook up with the women of their dreams thanks to Hitch’s sage advice. Despite his track record, however, he’s in for the toughest mission of his career. Albert Brennaman (Kevin James of “King Of Queens” fame) is a lovable klutz who works on the financial accounts of a beautiful heiress with the unfortunately pharmaceutical name of Allegra Cole (Amber Valletta, who resembles an all-grown-up Olsen Twin). Albert is, of course, madly in love with the stylish socialite, whose every move graces the gossip pages of the city’s newspapers. Terribly awkward, he doesn’t even know how to begin to approach her. Enter Hitch. Turning Albert into a stud will be no mean feat, but Hitch isn’t one to back down from a challenge. After a few lessons in cool, even Albert should be able to approach the lovely and heretofore unattainable Allegra. However, the plot is not about to leave Hitch to focus on only one storyline! Around the same time, Hitch also meets sexy man-hater extraordinaire Sara Melas (Eva Mendes), who writes one of the aforementioned gossip columns. Being the expert, of course, he manages to charm his way through her tough exterior and score a date. Little does she know that he’s the mythical Date Doctor, but it’ll be no surprise to anyone who’s seen more than two romantic comedies that when the third act kicks off, she’s going to find out! And, naturally, when she does find out, there’s big trouble in River City, friends. And this script sets up the eventual blowup in an absurdly contrived way. Suffice it to say that character A is introduced to character B, who knows character C, who randomly bumps into character D, who is the best friend of character E, who met character A separately and completely by chance. Also vital to the story is a relationship between character E and character F – who is also (in a completely unrelated way) tied to character B! (Did I mention that with the exception of D and E, all of these folks run in completely different circles?) Four casual words about A from C to D, who immediately misinterprets and reports them to E, and everything goes up in smoke. Right. Thankfully, this somewhat mean-spirited portion of the program is wrapped up not too long after it begins, and the story gets right back into the cutesy romantic stuff. The film is at its best when it’s not trying to be too heavy, and it wisely doesn’t linger too long on the stock breakup/ get-back-together climax. Hitch is, for the most part, a likeable and harmless (really, it’s a single F-bomb away from a PG rating) date movie that, although it features dialogue that gives new meaning to the word “unsubtle,” is redeemed by a cast that's right on its ‘A’ game. Ironically, it’s sitcom star Kevin James who steals the show as Albert, with a winning combination of physical comedy and endearing nerdiness. There are a few clever ideas here, and the story is nice enough, but one can’t help but think that, had someone handed the treatment for Hitch to Woody Allen in 1980 and set him loose to write and direct it, we would have had a classic on our hands. THE WAY I SEE IT: 2.5/5 The image isn’t awful, but it is a little disappointing for such a recent release. Colors are often a bit washed out, and there is more visible edge enhancement than has been usual for recent Sony discs. Detail is only OK. On the plus side, digital artifacts are not much of an issue, and black levels are respectable. THE WAY I HEAR IT: 4/5 The soundtrack is clear and does what it’s supposed to do. As the film is mainly dialogue-driven, the audio lives mostly up front, but there’s plenty of music and ambience in the surround channels where appropriate. THE SWAG: 2.5/5 (rating combines quality and quantity) Gag Reel (3:49) The usual clowning around, in non-anamorphic widescreen. Deleted Scenes Two deleted scenes and an alternate opening score are included. One scene is of Hitch running into his lost love Cressida, running about 3 minutes, with an introduction by director Andy Tennant that runs 1:48. It’s moderately amusing. The other is a funny 2.5-minute gag involving nature’s call that was cut from the Ellis Island sequence. The third selection plays the first 6.5 minutes of the film with a score written by composer George Fenton instead of the classic soul tunes used in the release version. The director provides a brief explanation. At the end of the opening sequence, it branches directly into the main feature. Featurettes The five included featurettes, which consist mainly of interviews with the cast and crew, are a step above the usual EPK material. They aren’t super-meaty, but they are entertaining. In a refreshing change of pace, they include lots of behind-the-scenes footage instead of the standard (and worthless) film clip padding. Dance Steps Made Easy (8:17) A look at the wacky dances that Kevin James came up with, including several that didn’t make the final cut. Love In New York (6:49) The cast and crew talk about filming in New York City. It’s great to see a movie that takes place in New York that was actually shot there (many real landmarks are clearly visible throughout the film, and most of the exteriors have an authentic feel). They’re too few and far between these days. Hitch Style (6:33) Costume Designer Marlene Stewart talks about how she came up with the looks for the main characters. The Dating Experts (11:21) A psychiatrist who acted as an on-set behavioral consultant and a number of representatives of dating services give their takes on Hitch’s dating techniques. Will Smith’s Red Carpet Race (3:52) A chronicle of Will Smith’s attempt to set the world record for most premiere appearances in separate cities in a 12-hour period. Music Video: “1 Thing” by Amerie (3:54) Previews: Thirteen(!) trailers are included. They can be selected from the main menu or the Special Features menu. Upon inserting the disc, the trailers for Bewitched, Zathura, and Stealth play automatically. Bewitched (new movie) (2:32) (DD5.1; 1.78:1 anamorphic) Zathura (2:32) (DD5.1; 1.78:1 anamorphic) Stealth (2:33) (DD2.0; 1.78:1 anamorphic) Man Of The House (2:31) (DD2.0; 1.78:1 anamorphic) Guess Who (2:13) (DD2.0; 1.78:1 anamorphic) XXX: State Of The Union (2:32) (DD2.0; 1.78:1 anamorphic) Boogeyman (2:22) (DD5.1; 1.78:1 anamorphic) D. E. B. S. (0:32) (DD2.0; 4:3 with letterboxed 2.35:1 non-anamorphic clips) Rescue Me (1:16) (DD2.0; 4:3 with letterboxed 1.78:1 non-anamorphic clips) Seinfeld (2:20) (DD2.0; 1.33:1 non-anamorphic) Creature Comforts: The Complete Series (1:41) (DD2.0; 1.33:1 non-anamorphic) Are We There Yet? (0:32) (DD2.0; 2.35:1 non-anamorphic) Stripes (2:15) (DD2.0; 1.33:1 non-anamorphic) SUMMING IT ALL UP The Way I Feel About It: 3/5 The Way I See It: 2.5/5 The Way I Hear It: 4/5 The Swag: 2.5/5 It’s not going to win any awards, but Hitch makes for a pleasant enough diversion. As a basic, generally by-the-numbers date movie, it works well. The rather witless dialogue is unfortunate, but the highly charismatic cast, led by Will Smith and Kevin James, makes the film very watchable. Even model-turned-actress Amber Valletta holds her own with the other leads, and the supporting roles are capably filled, most notably by Julie Ann Emery as Sara’s best friend Casey and by Alan Arkin as her boss. The A/V quality is generally in line with most current Sony titles, although the image has room for improvement. The extra features are worth checking out. Finally, bonus props go to this rare beast – a New York movie that was actually filmed in the city and that makes use of a number of well-known landmarks in the story.