Bomb Rating: 

Valentine's Day is coming up soon, so one can expect an onslaught of cheesy commercials, intolerable mall music, red everything, and the inevitable sappy, predictable, overlong romantic comedy. So, clocking in at a clunky two hours, Hollywood delivers "Hitch."

The first clue that this film is going to quickly spill over into a world of fantasy more appropriate to hobbits and elves is the preposterous notion, one that is central to Hitch's obligatory romance, that Alex "Hitch" Hitchens (Will Smith) is a "date doctor" whose success is legendary but whose identity is a near secret in New York City. Gossip columnist and eventual love interest Sara (Eva Mendes) hears about him through a friend who speaks about Hitch in mythic terms like a young girl would talk about the tooth fairy after losing her front teeth and finding tickets to Disneyland under her pillow the next morning.

So, not only can Hitch seemingly turn water into wine, but he can actually successfully pair up goofy fat men with runway models, which he does by training a lonely accountant named Albert (Kevin James) with a rich, beautiful heiress named Allegra Cole (Amber Valletta). In what seems like five minutes, Hitch teaches Albert how to be suave, not spill food down his shirt, dance without looking like an imbecile, and kiss a woman so that she becomes his love slave. It's the equivalent of teaching a weekend griller how to be a master chef by having him lick lobster bisque off a used spoon.

Naturally, everything Albert does works while everything Hitch does to woo Sara seemingly fails, though it's that kind of failure that's so preposterously over-the-top that we can practically see the attraction seeping out of Sara's pores like sweat on a hot day. This is yet another film about the beautiful people and their never-ending problems. Poor Hitch and poor Sara are birds of the same feather -- guarded souls, each with a history of heartache that prevents them from taking that all-important leap and falling in love. God it must suck to be Will Smith and Eva Mendes. I felt so awful for them.

The world of "Hitch" is a self-help guru's dream. It's all about self-actualization. There's a some-step program for anything that ails you and problems are merely reflections of one's inability to realize one's full potential. The only thing the movie lacked was Tony Robbins standing next to me providing a color commentary.

The main hitch here was right when the theater lights went down.

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