Why Hitch is the greatest rom-com of all time: Opinion
Life is not the amount of breaths, it’s the amount of moments in Hitch that take your breath away.
If you follow me on Twitter, or frequently read EW.com, or know me personally, you’re probably all saying the same thing: “Derek, stop talking about Hitch so much.” And to that I both say, you can never talk too much about Hitch, and incorrectly quote the famed wordsmith Alexander Hitchens (Will Smith), “
Love Hitch is my life.” And, also to incorrectly quote his sidekick Albert Brennaman (Kevin James), “No, love Hitch is my job!” Well, today my job is to tell you why Hitch is the greatest rom-com of all time. Yes, you read that right.
Why am I doing this? Well, I’ve got five really good reasons:
- Tuesday marks the 15th anniversary of Hitch, the third highest-grossing rom-com in history.
- I love to run a good bit into the ground.
- How else am I going to bring attention to my idea for Hitch 2?
- Eva Mendes deserves this.
- Hitch is the greatest rom-com of all time.
No matter what, no matter when, no matter who, any man has a chance to declare that Hitch is the best rom-com in film history. Just needs the right argument. This is that argument.
Basic Principles: Quote Hitch
No rom-com is more quotable than Hitch, and I just proved it by already doing it four times in this story. Grading on the rom-com scale, the writing is top-notch, especially considering director Andy Tennant previously told EW that much of the film was written on the fly, with Manchester by the Sea‘s Kenneth Lonergan and Rain Man‘s Ron Bass pitching in. It had to be a team effort to come up with gold like this: “Never lie, steal, cheat, or drink. But if you must lie, lie in the arms of the one you love. If you must steal, steal away from bad company. If you must cheat, cheat death. If you must drink, drink in the moments that take your breath away.”
Shaking Up the Rom-Com Status Quo
As previously mentioned, Hitch is the third highest-grossing rom-com of all-time, and besides Hitch and recent addition Crazy Rich Asians, the top 10 is very white. The success of these films helps prove that mainstream audiences have an appetite for diverse love stories. Too often films with minority leads have been considered niche, under the outdated belief that, for example, a rom-com with a black couple could only appeal to black audiences. Reportedly, this was even a concern in the development of Hitch, with Eva Mendes, a Latina, being deemed the safe middle ground between casting a white woman or black woman opposite Will Smith. And the push for different faces in the genre led to sizzling chemistry between the two extremely charming and likable actors. I mean, every time I watch their morning after goodbye in the below clip I think, “Oh, I’ll definitely never find that kind of love.”
The Ultimate Cool Will Smith
Speaking of charming Smith, he may be the most charming person in the world, and Hitch is him at the peak of those powers. Netflix’s description for this movie literally begins with “Smooth and sexy Hitch…” And he is exactly that from the beginning, both in the opening coaching montage and his true introduction when he steals Paula Patton away from a group of guys by pretending to think she’s a waitress. I could cite scene after scene, but I’ll just repurpose the Hitch blurb from EW’s rankings of Smith film performances, on which Hitch ranks No. 2.
“He gets to perfectly play many versions of the date doctor: charming Hitch, allergic reaction Hitch, flustered Hitch, embarrassed Hitch, nerd Hitch. And it’s almost impossible to pick just one scene to highlight; it could be meeting Sara (Mendes) for the first time, or teaching Albert how to dance, or Hitch and Albert kissing, or the speed dating confrontation. You know what, just go watch the whole movie and fall in love all over again.”
Get Your Only Big Willie Rom-Com Fix
It’s hard to believe but Smith — the biggest movie star of a generation — has only done one rom-com (I love Focus, but it’s more like a rom-crime-dramedy). That’s crazy. It would be like if Vin Diesel only did one Fast & Furious, or if James Cameron did more than one Avatar. We can only assume that Smith’s motto was “If you make the greatest rom-com of all-time, why not just go out on top?”
Eva Mendes, Movie Star
Netflix described Hitch as “smooth and sexy,” while I’d describe Mendes in Hitch as sexy, smart, witty, charming, and tough. The actress turns in a career-best performance, making Sara Melas into an original, memorable rom-com character, even if she, like 90 percent of the genre’s female characters, is a journalist. Having to go toe-to-toe with Smith is no easy task, but Mendes proves to be a perfect match from the start. Over the last decade, Mendes has prioritized being a mother and businesswoman over acting (2014’s Lost River was her last credit), but we will always have her in Hitch. And I will always have my theory that her partner, Ryan Gosling, saw her Hitch success and tried to replicate it with Crazy, Stupid, Love.
Kevin James Is…Good?
James has been the face of more than 250 episodes of CBS sitcoms, starred in his own comedy film franchise, and smartly befriended Adam Sandler (the Sandman keeps gettin’ James those checks). And yet, is anyone ever like, “You know who I love, Kevin James”? But, you know who I love in Hitch? Kevin James. While Zooey Deschanel and New Girl get credit for popularizing (and running into the ground) the term, I’d argue that James is absolutely adorkable here, and sets the bar for rom-com male best friends (did he miss his chance to be his gender’s Judy Greer?!).
Two Love Stories for the Price of One
While most rom-coms are all about bringing one couple together, Hitch is not most rom-coms. It’s not just that the film has both the Allegra-Albert and Sara-Hitch romances, but that we’re equally invested in both of them. And we get to imagine a world where these four will just be dancing, whistling, and hitching together for the rest of their lives.
A Much Different First Kiss
But before Hitch and Sara or Albert and Allegra (Amber Valletta) could have their happily ever afters, the first kiss is actually between Hitch and Albert. One of the film’s more hilarious — and romantic — scenes features Hitch coaching Albert on first kisses, and it was actually a last-minute idea from Smith. “Will looked around at the location in the West Village and said, ‘This is beautiful, why are we only shooting half a page here?’” Tennant shared with EW. “We got onto a conversation of walking a girl to the door and Will said, ‘Have you ever heard of the 90/10?’ So he explained what 90/10 was and Kevin, Will, and myself start riffing on jiggling keys and we decide that we’re going to do a scene where Will walks Kevin to the door.”
Considering the impromptu idea, the film didn’t have a permit, so Smith and Tennant started going door-to-door. “We literally pick a brownstone, go up the stairs and knock on the door together and guess who opens the door?” says Tennant. “Sarah Jessica Parker. It’s her apartment.”
Somehow, it becomes even more romantic realizing that Will Smith and Kevin James have kissed on the same stoop as Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick.
“Dancing Is the One Thing I’m Not Worried About”
Every great rom-com needs a great dance scene, and, always the overachiever, Hitch has two. The truly memorable one is another idea from Smith: Hitch attempting to teach Albert to dance, only for that to be the one area Albert feels comfortable in. I dare you to hear “Yeah!” in the club and not do the “q-tip” or “making the pizza.”
Another essential rom-com staple is a wedding, and that is where Hitch‘s second dance sequence happens. I could have watched an entire movie of Mendes, Smith, James, and Valletta dancing in that Soul Train Line. And Smith clearly loved could have kept doing it since he recreated the exact Hitch ending at the end of Aladdin. If you’re somehow still reading this story, you’re probably thinking I’m exaggerating, but look at the evidence below. Show me another rom-com that Disney copied and made $1 billion doing so!
Hitch‘s greatness can also be measured in the other art that it inspires, whether it’s the almost shot-for-shot remake Aladdin, 40-Year-Old Virgin (also having both wax and speed dating scenes), or my highly-anticipated (in my house) sequel idea, Hitch 2: Back in Business.
Oh, I guess since I have your ear I might as well give you my Hitch pitch: We pick up 15 years after the events of the first film, and Hitch and Sara are recently separated (blame Eva’s semi-retirement). Hitch must now return to the game and business that has so drastically changed in his time away. That is when he meets a younger version of himself in Jason “Match” Maker (played by Michael B. Jordan), who likes the challenge of helping out this seemingly old, uncool man. Meanwhile, Match has decided to switch it up and try coaching a woman, which doesn’t sit well with his new client’s feisty roommate Dana (played by Mackenzie Davis). Sparks will fly between Match and Dana, and, thankfully, we’ll score a late cameo from Mendes to reconcile Hitch and Sara. Now, someone go tell Will.
And there it is, my ironclad case for Hitch being the greatest rom-com of all time. I know I took your breath away, so don’t bother debating.