I don’t think Eva Mendes needed to be in this.
With Halloween behind us, and Christmas still over a month away, the four movies chosen for November’s Wayback Wednesday’s are going to be more random than an episode of Riverdale (2017 – present). Apparently there are flying babies now? I can’t. I’m open to suggestions if there are any movies you’d like to see me review, but for this week’s Wayback, I went with the Will Smith romantic comedy, Hitch (2005).
Remember how this was one of those movies that was always on W or Bravo on a Sunday afternoon? Ah, the days when we used to watch movies on cable television. “Feel-good” really is the best way to describe this movie. It’s easy to become jaded when almost every movie markets itself as, “the feel-good film of the year,” but this movie actually delivers on the promise. It’s a romantic comedy that is capable of making you feel positively about love as well as laugh out loud, both of which I did multiple times. If you haven’t already seen it, Hitch is about professional dating consultant Alex “Hitch” Hitchens who helps introduce men to the women of their dreams and secure loving, long-term relationships. If the movie were about him trying to get the guys laid, it would be hella creepy and wouldn’t have aged well at all. But Hitch is simply about creating a meet cute, an opportunity to get people who normally would have never talked to each other, talking. Slightly deceitful though his business may be, Hitch never resorts to anything malicious, vulgar, or degrading. Although he totally abducts that lady’s dog in the beginning, right?
The great thing about his tips are that they make for actually good dating advice. Hitch doesn’t advise men to, “tell her you’re rich and then she’ll sleep with you!” He tells his clients that the way to win over a woman includes listening to her and responding with interest, making friends with her friends, being yourself no matter how shy or outgoing, and most importantly, not stressing too much while you’re together. She’s already agreed to go out with you, she likes you. Romantic comedies can often fly off the rails with over-the-top gestures and unrealistic standards, but it’s the true and simple advice that grounds the movie and makes it a love story that’s enjoyable to watch. It inspires the audience to take control of their own lives and make things happen, a quality that I most admire in movies.
No one needs that inspiration more than Albert Brenneman, delightfully played by Kevin James. This was during The King of Queens (1998 – 2007), so there was still hope for his film career. I realize roles like Albert aren’t as glamorous as playing second banana to Adam Sandler, but this really is the type of role Kevin James should stick with. As hopelessly-in-love Albert, James plays the bumbling, adorable, dork that we always want to see prevail in romantic comedies. He also gets to claim undoubtedly the best part of the movie, dancing to Usher’s “Yeah.” To this day I can’t listen to that song without thinking of this movie. In fact, I still unironically bust out the “Q-tip” whenever I’m on the dance floor.
James’ clumsily cute mishaps coupled with Smith’s effervescent and animated responses are what sell this movie for me. Their relationship reminds me of another one of my favourite movies, the romantic comedy, Crazy, Stupid, Love (2011), which will ABSOLUTELY be reviewed at some point. I was hands down more interested in watching their relationship than I was watching Will Smith and Eva Mendes’. As gossip reporter Sara Melas, Mendes follows the budding romance between Albert and heiress Allegra Cole, while simultaneously checking off all the boxes on “2000s Rom-Com Bingo:”
Lives in New York? CHECK.
Works at a magazine? CHECK.
Has a sassy gay friend? CHECK.
Is cynical about love? CHECK.
Oh my God, and as soon as we meet her you can tell that her character is edgy and different because she wears a Beatles t-shirt AND drinks beer while her friend Casey sips a martini in a cocktail dress.
Oh wow, and Casey is a piece of work too. She’s just living in an episode of Sex and the City (1998 – 2004). She’s always out for cocktails, quaint dinners, talks about her friend’s relationships, and gets told things like, “you’re not sick, you’re single!” Wait, is this movie just Sex and the City with Will Smith as Carrie Bradshaw? Hmm, I couldn’t help but wonder…
But back to Eva Mendes. I don’t think I’ve ever truly liked her in a movie. She’s not a terrible actress or utterly unappealing, but her characters always seem to be just, “hot love interest.” Her characters are rarely given any material of great depth or interest. In fact, the most interesting thing she’s ever done is get Ryan Gosling to settle down. As unnecessary as I find Mendes, her chemistry with Smith is entertaining to watch. Sara’s hard-ass cynicism playing off of Hitch’s excessive optimism, is a tried and true dynamic that’s always a lot of fun to watch in romantic comedies. Speaking of comedies, fight me on this, but I think Will Smith delivers one of his best comedic performances in this movie. Some of the biggest laughs in the movie are courtesy of Smith, and they’re all the scenes that people most associate with Hitch: Teaching Albert how to kiss, kicking Sara in the head while riding jets skis, sliding Albert’s pen into his pocket, and of course, suffering an allergic reaction and having his face puff up to twice its size. Priceless.
Hitch may be a little stylistically dated (three separate characters wear tinted, coloured sunglasses with flair), but its main message that long-lasting love can be found by those who have the courage to be authentically themselves and take that first step, will never age. This is a totally fun movie-watching experience, and if you’re looking for something light and cute to watch on Netflix tonight, Hitch is at the top of my recommendation list.
Oh my God, and stick around for the very end scenes. Not only is there a horrifically embarrassing dance train which is how all movies should end, but there’s an old lady “date doctor” who slyly introduces Casey to her handsome grandson. Umm, yes please to that gender-reversed reboot.
Does Hitch make you laugh and swoon?
Let me know in the comments or on social media!