A professional matchmaker's program is threatened by a female journalist who plans on publishing an expose on his methods.
So synonymous is Will Smith with the summer blockbuster that to see him stray out of the balmier months without his steely action face seems like trespass. He should be holed up somewhere building his prodigious biceps and practicing ways of shouting 'sonofabitch'. Yet here he's laying down the guns and giving his goofier side a workout, one which has not been seen in full force since the first Men In Black, and it begs the question of why he doesn't indulge in action-free comedy more often.
While certainly not Smith at his best, this has him at his funniest in quite some time, sending up his slick persona as a usually unflappable smoothy who loses all poise when he tries to put his own dating advice into practice with Mendes' ballsy journalist. His ability to maintain a shiver of cool in the face of the ridiculous is a skill unmatched by any other Hollywood actor and makes him constantly watchable even when the material, as is often the case here, requires a little more polish.
It helps that he's ably supported by the extended cast. Sara is no stereotypical fiery latina, thanks to Mendes playing her as equally sexy and silly, happy to pratfall as the role demands. She's not as skilled as Smith comedically but certainly puts herself among the higher end of the current (fairly thin) crop of laugh-drawing leading ladies. Best, though, is the rotund love-loser Albert, played by US TV star Kevin James, of the underrated sitcom King Of Queens.
His propensity to do exactly the wrong thing in his wooing of ridiculously out-of-his-league company boss Allegra (supermodel Amber Valletta) produces moments of broad comedy tinged with pathos and contain far more heart than the clashing of equals in the Smith/Mendes match-up. It's a shame this B-list relationship is also relegated to B-list status in terms of screen time. Hitch won't likely become a highlightable entry on the CVs of any of the actors, given that, for all its cast-generated sparkle, it is resolutely middle of the road, but as disposable comedy that elicits far more giggles than groans, this delivers everything expected of it with cheerful likeability.
As a Will Smith movie, this isn't likely to blow either minds or the box office, but as romantic comedies go it's certainly better than the average.