It may not be nutritious, but cotton candy is cute. It's light, pink, fluffy, all sweetness, and bad for your teeth. To exploit the sugary charm amassed within, it only asks that you kindly accept its chronic hydrophobia and forget everything you've ever learned about not eating string. Easy, but fun. Airy, yet irresistible.
Hitch, this week's blockbusting romantic comedy, is also pretty cute, and its consumption requires similar childish abandon. Date doctor Alex "Hitch" Hitchens, a slim, sexy Cupid played like a two-stringed lyre by Will Smith, operates under an even simpler, more pathetically adorable philosophy: "Any man has a chance to sweep any woman off her feet. He just needs the right broom." Wow?was that my heart a-flutter or did my sociology notes just fall all over the floor? Damn. Hold on.
From proclamations that would unravel all romantic cynicism by the turn of a single, snuggly phrase to its insistence on the age-old refrain that "all you need is love," Hitch is stitched in fibers sticky and saccharine. Hold it in question too long and the whole structure dissolves. But for even tentative believers willing to let go, it's a spoonful of sugar to help the real-world date drama go down.
Alex Hitch, says the tagline, is "the cure for the common man" (note, gentlemen, the clever way in which your gender is associated with an endurable disease. I will say no more). Sporting sharp suits just begging for a boutonniere, and based out of a wine-spritzing New York City bachelor pad, Hitch plays undercover coach to more than desperate, less than bootylicious singletons tired of falling flat in front of Ms. Right.
The lessons are not rocket science, but then again, I'm not a guy: "Don't look at her mouth. Don't try to imagine what she would look like naked," he explains. Yeah, that's a start. Then there are the signals. When guiding a girl, watch where you touch her back: too high, you just want to be friends; too low, you just want sex, Hitch says. And if she fiddles with her keys when you leave her at her doorstep, she wants a kiss. Take notes, ladies. The beer-stained pit in front of your room in Coles Tower may not qualify as a doorstep per se?but I don't know?maybe you could flap your ID card around?
Clearly, a demonstration is due. Fear not; at our service is the mild, blubbering guinea pig Albert (King of Queens' Kevin James), a veritable geyser of comic pity and the film's quintessential lovey-dovey sap. This is the guy we gals are supposed to believe is out there, somewhere, stumbling over himself as he admires us from afar, trying to build up the courage to stand in our awesome presence. It's bull, yes, but come now. A girl can dream.
Conveniently, the object of Al's desire is a gorgeous and, for all intents and purposes, unattainable heiress (Amber Valletta) who doesn't know he exists, but as his many mopey monologues lay bare, he will stop at nothing. Never mind that open pining died in high school; lick the sugar coating off your fingers and take another sugary bite. With his character delivering the sort of lines to the sort of music that could get you beat up at a campus-wide (if his dancing doesn't do it first), James will be hearing from his stand-up comic buddies about this one. On the bright side, Hitch did just make $43.1 million, setting the record for highest opening for a romantic comedy. And that's more than can be said for David Spade and?snicker?Joe Dirt.
Okay, so you've got the Rock Hudson and his Tony Randall. But no faith restoring rom-com is complete without a Doris Day?updated for the 21st century, of course. While still very much the tamed shrew of the 1950s who guides unbelievers toward the light, today's cynic is tougher, sexier, and not about to take the same Lois Lane crap that plastic onscreen housewives once gobbled by the mouthful.
Here, the part goes to Cuban-American cutie Eva Mendes, who, as snappy star gossip columnist Sara, knows tabloid dirt and drama too well to risk getting involved with the opposite sex?until she meets Hitch, that is. Smitten by the challenge, he sends her a walkie-talkie when she doesn't give him her number and researches her relatives on Ellis Island before taking her there?on jet skis?on their first date. Some might call it stalking. For Hitch, it's love.
I'm not giving anything away here when I say that to win over the girl, the smooth-talking Hitch must be reduced to a blubbering idiot. Not ideal for his action star image, but then again, he still owes us for Wild Wild West and Men in Black II. No matter: with chick flicks, it's all about the route, not the destination. Seeing the feminine side of Mr. "I make this look good" is one pleasure on this path. But it is nothing compared to the guilty pleasure of giving in to frivolous swirls of carb-stuffed fun?if your sweet tooth can take it.
2.5 Polar Bears (of 4)