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Genre: Comedy/Romance
Rated: PG-13
Directed by
Written by: KEVIN BISCH
Released by: Columbia Pictures

In Short: Will Smith is easy to love as a consultant to the loveless. No wonder this feel-good flick is being released for Valentine’s Day.

Go Ahead. Get Hitched.
A silly, smart antidote to winter blues.
By Andrew Bender

“Hitch” has all the makings of a crowd-pleaser calculated in some studio back room, so you can be forgiven for reading the specs and saying “Ohhhhhhh no.” It’s got the ever-bankable Will Smith, a formulaic story, sexy but accomplished female leads, a big TV star, a hip New York backdrop and an upbeat soundtrack of pop hits. Despite all that, “Hitch” actually is a crowd-pleaser.

Smith is likeable, almost cuddly, as Alex Hitchens, a “date doctor” who claims he can teach any man to sweep any woman off her feet---“You just need the right broom.” Hitch may be smooth, but he’s not about the one-night stand. He’s in it for the long game; to him, the third date is the “high stakes round.”

Hitch finds his most untreatable client in Albert Brenneman (Kevin James of TV’s “King of Queens”), a meek, sloppy, overweight financial manager prone to spilling mustard on himself. Smith and James are loads of fun to watch together (why hasn’t James worked in more movies?), and when they’re on screen with their ladies (Eva Mendes as gossip columnist Sara Melas and Amber Valletta as socialite Allegra Cole), the fireworks fly.

Director Andy Tennant (“Sweet Home Alabama”) incorporates more imaginative shots than most would in a mainstream comedy, and Kevin Bisch’s script offers rare real-world romantic advice, especially for you gentlemen (e.g. for that first kiss, go 90 percent of the way and then let her meet you). And although Hitch is the one dishing out words of wisdom, the unflappable Sara even gets to counsel a lovelorn friend with, “You’re not sick. You’re single.”

The story may be a little predictable and the pace goes a bit wobbly in the knees toward the end, but “Hitch” delivers where it counts. Go with someone you like, and see if you don’t get a next date out of it.

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