Hitch vs. Good Romantic Comedies (spoilers)

Okay, so I rented and saw Hitch with Will Smith, Eva Mendes, Kevin James and Amber Valetta.

Overall - not awful. Not great. Smith has leading-man charisma, Mendes wasn’t “light up the screen” amazing, but seemed intelligent and pretty, Kevin James was pretty funny and Amber was beautiful, if not the greatest actress in the world.

So I sat there wondering why it didn’t work - obviously it starts with the script. I decided the following: Unlike, say, Spencer/Tracy good romantic comedies, the conflict between our lovers in Hitch was bad, sitcom-based misunderstanding crap.

Because I love a great rom-com and was driving for a couple of hours this morning, I decided to rewrite Hitch - here goes:

  • Scrap the subplot where the pig guy is trying to “bang” the girl who turns out to be Eva/Sarah’s best friend.
  • Instead, have the guy be a really great guy, but whose love for the best friend is likely to be doomed to failure - their families don’t get along, he probably has to marry to meet family business needs - something like that.
  • Eva/Sarah is cynical and thinks her best friend should walk away.
  • Eva and Hitch meet. Through a series of events, they learn that her best friend is seeing one of his clients and they debate light-heartedly about both sides - she is the cynical realist who thinks that if there is no chance just walk away; he is the hopeful romantic who supports the effort because love will find a way.
  • Then, the awful happens - the man has to do what we all feared, and Eva’s best friend is crushed. Eva, in defense of her best friend, takes a stand and she and Hitch have a knock-down fight over the fundamental belief in falling in love vs. protecting those you love. They split up.
  • Much drifting and misery ensues.
  • Eventually, through an interesting twist, Hitch sees that he can’t just ignore reality and Eva/Sarah realizes she loves him and they figure out how to overcome their beliefs so love can prevail. And, because this is a rom-com, the man Hitch was helping ends up not having to go through with his arranged marriage and can hook up with the best friend. The end.

The basic point here is that our lead characters get to have an actual, passionate conflict based on real beliefs, not a stupid misunderstanding.

Whaddya think?


Making a good rom-com is probably the hardest thing a writer and director can do.

  • From the beginning, we all know that the main two characters are gonna fall in love. So how do we create the suspense, tension, conflict need to make the story last for 90 - 120 minutes?
  • It’s different from pure romantic movies, because we have to laugh as well. Creating comedy is very hard, weaving it into a romantic story, with good results, is nearly impossible. So much comedy relies on people getting hurt (and we laugh as comic relief), and that the setup will pay off in the way we knew beforehand.
  • Getting two actors with chemistry enough to make us cheer when they get together is tough too.

I think Hitch did an OK job, if not great. It kept me entertained.

BTW: I’m sure you wanted to write Tracy / Hepburn, not Spencer / Tracy.

I hate it when that happens. Thank you.

And your basic point is spot on - which is why I was going for a legitimate difference of opinion between the two characters which would lead to actual tension over the course of the movie…

Actually, I thought the basic plot elements were just fine. I thought it was a very sweet story, and the fact that Hitch’s profession was getting people, well, hitched, when he was afraid of falling in love himself was a nice twist.

What I had a problem with was the physical humor. I thought it was overdone- the “food allergy” scene and subsequent “Hitch gets all sappy and self-revelatory while f-ed up on Benedryl”, well, that was downright disturbing. First of all, I can tell you from experience that if you’re having an allergic reaction to something you’ve eaten that causes any facial swelling, the inside of your windpipe is also swelling, and you really need to be taken to an emergency room, not to a drugstore to purchase an antihistimine that probably won’t take effect until about twenty minutes after you’ve died of asphyxiation (assuming you don’t go into anaphylactic shock and die on the way to said drugstore). Also, taking too much Benedryl doesn’t make you sappy drunk, it makes you feel very sleepy and very, very uncomfortably dried out. It’s actually quite nasty.

Aside from that, I found Hitch to be a very workable romantic comedy. If the Benedryl scene had been handled differently (say, a reaction to having had a drink or two mixed with the antihistimine, as opposed to getting ripped on the antihistimine itself) and the physical humor in general toned down a notch or two, it would have been a very good, if not great, movie.

The best thing about the movie was Kevin James. I was pleasantly surprised, in that I thought he would be playing more like his character on King of Queens.

We rented this Friday. I had high expectations because I love Will Smith, I’m a regular viewer of King of Queens re-runs (though not for Kevin James, it’s Jerry Stiller I love).

Anywhoo, other than a few chuckles during the scene where James is showing Smith his patented dance moves, I was extremely bored. I am not into action flicks, slow easygoing movies usually entertain me, but this one failed. Maybe it was because I was not expecting it to be slow. I came very close to dozing off during the drunk-on-benadryl couch confessional.

For me personally it would have been better if it focused more on Smith trying to mold James into a suave date-able guy. That’s what I went into it thinking it was about.