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:: Hitch

For most of its running time, the new film from director Andy Tennant (Sweet Home Alabama) and first time writer Kevin Bisch is hilarious. Unfortunately Hollywood rom-com ennui strikes in the last 15 minutes to collapse the souffle that is Hitch under the weight of its own sentimentality.

New Yorker Alex ‘Hitch’ Hitchens (Will Smith) is so smooth, he does it for a living. Helping hapless guys date the girls of their dreams, that is. His latest project, his “Sistine Chapel” is chubby accountant and dance maniac Albert (Kevin James), who’s head-over-heels for socialite Allegra (supermodel Amber Valletta). But when Hitch meets cynical gossip columnist Sara (Eva Mendes), his panache leaves him. The usual flirtations, misunderstandings, girly chats and last-minute epiphanies ensue, made bearable by quality comedy (in particular, the trip to Ellis Island).

Will Smith glides through his first rom-com role, although admittedly not much is asked of him. But what Hitch sees in the irritating snarky Sara is a mystery. Much more interesting are the supporting leads, whose mismatched couple manages to spark real chemistry.

As far as fluffy date flicks go, Hitch doesn’t miss a beat until the last fifteen minutes, which only the most syrupy romantics will enjoy. For the rest of us, a little snooze might be in order.