It’s Valentine’s Day, so of course a romantic comedy is on deck for this week. Even with such a huge library to choose from, I had to go with Hitch, with my man Will Smith.
Romantic comedies are tough. They’re cliche by nature. You can pretty much nail the story beats down, even to the minute. When you really boil it down, they’re all basically the same movie. But even so, they remain incredibly popular. So what makes any one rom-com stand out in the crowd?
To stick out, a rom-com needs to find a unique spin. Mamma Mia! and its (far superior) sequel, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again have the musical aspect. When Harry Met Sally has the pitch-perfect chemistry between leads Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan. So what does Hitch have? Well, Hitch has the electric and charismatic personality that is Will Smith.
As evidenced (again) by this year’s Bad Boys for Life and last year’s Aladdin, Will Smith can take a movie to new heights simply by being himself. And honestly, sometimes that’s all a rom-com needs. Look at Matthew McConaughey’s run in the first decade of the 2000’s. The Wedding Planner, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, Failure to Launch, Fool’s Gold, Ghosts of Girlfriends Past. All of those except The Wedding Planner grossed over $100 million, and even that was at $95 million.
And having several handsome and beautiful characters never hurts, of course. Throw in some schmaltzy romance, several laughs, and you’ve got yourself a hit, no matter how predictable the story might be.
Along with Smith, Hitch stars Eva Mendes, Kevin James, and Amber Valletta. All three are fairly stereotypical characters, but the whole group gels and they have great chemistry. And that’s an absolute must for any successful rom-com. It’s important for all movies, but feels especially so for this genre. There are no action sequences to distract the audience, the story is rarely anything particularly captivating, and any true surprises are few and far between.
Smith and James are the heart and soul of Hitch. And while Smith tends to get most of the credit, James’ contributions can’t go overlooked. While his character is a little bit over the top (as might be expected), he still manages to bring a much needed air of relatability to the story. He’s the connection to the audience. Who among the audience can’t relate to Albert Brennaman in one way or another?
We’ve all had the crush we’re convinced is far out of our league. We all have times when we think we’re not good enough, whether it’s in regards to relationships or otherwise. Everyone relates to Albert on different levels, but there’s going to be some part of him that you can see in yourself. So seeing him as the – for lack of a better word – hero of the movie leaves you with a good feeling when the final credits roll on Hitch.
And aside from the solid leading cast, Hitch also offers a great message, something not all rom-coms have. While Hitch’s business methods might be questionable at times (the opening scene especially feels particularly manipulative) the underlying message is to be yourself. If someone doesn’t like you for you, then they’re the wrong person. The right person will appreciate all you bring to the table, quirks and all.