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We dropped in on the film Hitch the other night partly because somebody told us it was sort of funny but mostly because we were curious to find out who exactly this person Eva Mendes was. We'd never heard of her until recently when, in the course of reviewing other films, we'd had occasion to look at picture galleries from numerous movie premieres, none of which starred Mendes, and noticed that this woman seemed to be walking the carpet at every single one. We finally asked around a couple months ago about who she was since we figured we'd eventually be exposed as pop culturally remiss for not knowing but nobody in the group of four that we queried at the time had heard of her either. We assumed she was like Jessica Simpson or Hilary Duff, supposed celebrities who creep across the consciousness long before you can pinpoint exactly why you are supposed to know who they are. Mendes, now that we've seen her in action, seems a cut above the likes of Simpson and the Duff of course (who doesn't) but we're still not sure how she made her way into feature films. Perhaps she just kept showing up at premieres and eventually the powers that be assumed she must be a player and decided they better cast her in a leading role before another director decided to. Anyway she stars in Hitch with Will Smith and while she doesn't exactly embarrass herself, she, and certainly her character, are nothing to write home about.

Hitch is pretty typical romantic comedy fare with Smith, the former rapper/sitcom star now firmly entrenched on the big screen and playing something of a love doctor named Alex "Hitch" Hitchens (get it) who councils guys on how to secure relationships with women that are basically completely out of their league. Kevin James plays just such a boobish fellow who has designs on a lithe blonde socialite played by Amber Valletta (caution: link may contain nudity) but can't get past his clumsy self to get up the nerve to talk to her. With Hitch's coaching however, he finally catches her attention and somehow ends up dating her only to find himself as tabloid fodder. One of these rags employs Mendes, who has been somewhat reluctantly dating Hitch himself without knowing what he does for a living. Of course Hitch has trouble following his own expert advice when it comes to his own heart and a two for one romance sort of thing develops with parallel stories of the two couples and the struggles they must endure in order to live happily ever after. Not hugely compelling stuff but Smith is pleasant and fairly believable as a suave, city dwelling, smooth operator with a vulnerable side and James not bad at stumbling and bumbling around. That is until the last half of the movie when the plot falls completely flat and the writing disappears all together. 

The women costars however, just don't quite cut it. 

Mendes doesn't come off as any diamond in the rough of a great actress and is not purely attractive enough in the Paz Vega or Penelope Cruz (caution: links may contain nudity) sort of way to get by solely on her looks. She also doesn't quite have the cuteness quality (or if she does the director wasn't able to capture it) and if you think back to when you first saw Renée Zellweger in that "Show me the money" movie, you'll know what we're talking about as far as a new actress coming onto the scene and just having a cuddly and likeable presence right off the bat which makes people immediately hope that they find whatever it is they are looking for. Not the case here, especially since Mendes' character makes her living hawking smut for a sleazy tabloid. She draws a pretty good living off of disrupting other people's personal lives and scandal mongering and we're supposed to think she is worthy of true love herself? Valletta, (shown left) who evidently is some sort of model/socialite trying to cross over, comes off as likeable in a sort of washed out nuevo riche style but doesn't do much acting either and while neither of them are that bad necessarily, we just wondered why the director would settle for such vapidness instead of trying to enlist one of the aforementioned Latina vixens or someone like Halle Barry for the female lead. Like Chris Rock was saying at the Oscars the other night, a director shouldn't ever consider casting someone like him if a Jamie Foxx is available and that rule probably should have applied here. And if you need a heiress to stand around and look blonde then why not just cast Paris Hilton herself since she doesn't seem to have anything else constructive to do. Anyway, like so many movies these days Hitch is not a complete waste of time but mostly forgettable without anything new and orignal to recommend it and, since basically everything funny is contained in the previews, there's really no reason to go too far out of your way to see this film.

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