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|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E||
dir Andy Tennant|
scr Kevin Bisch
with Will Smith, Eva Mendes, Kevin James, Amber Valletta, Julie Ann Emery, Adam Arkin, Michael Rapaport, Philip Bosco, Jeffrey Donovan, Matt Malloy, Robinne Lee, Nathan Lee Graham
release US 11.Feb.05, UK 4.Mar.05
05/US Columbia 1h58
Some good advice: James and Smith
What this comedy lacks in cleverness or originality it more than makes up for with charm. It's vastly superior to the similar New York rom-com How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, simply because the filmmakers wisely allow a subplot to steal the thunder ... and win us over.
Alex Hitchens (Smith) is a Manhattan guru who helps guys win their perfect woman for life, not just for one date. But his latest client is going to be tough work: an overweight, clumsy accountant (James) in love with a sexy celebrity socialite (Valletta). Then Hitch meets Sara (Mendes), and he finds it difficult to follow his own advice. Especially since she's also a gossip reporter who smells a story brewing.
The plot is pure formula; we never doubt where it's going, and we can even predict story points before they come along. Tennant directs it with that glossy Hollywood sheen--suppressing his personality as a filmmaker to make a shiny, extremely smiley movie. And Smith cranks up his charm as a character who's rather smug but dashing and likeable--and even more so once he gets his comeuppance. Mendes even manages to keep up with him--sassy and tough in that "I'm really a softy underneath" kind of way.
But the film's real star is James (aka the King of Queens), who's flat-out brilliant as the goofy-chubby guy who's way out of his league, but can constantly surprise us with honest wit and soul. No matter how hard they try to wedge him into the silly sidekick role, he completely walks away with the film, and our hearts. And Valletta is surprisingly game for it all, shining especially brightly in the film's climactic scene, as well as the requisite zany credit sequence.
"Requisite" pretty much defines everything about this film. The script is a bundle of cliches, the production is slick and bland, the characters are funny and/or nasty and completely vacuous. But as far as bog standard rom-coms go, this is one of the most enjoyable ones in recent memory. And Kevin James is the main reason.
|Laurie T, Minneapolis: "This I should bill as the perfect date movie - definitely a couples' movie. We laughed so hard my cheeks were hurting. Will Smith delivers his lines perfectly and Kevin James is perfect! Definitely one to see if you need a laugh. Again, you KNOW how it is going to end - how else can it? - but it is hilarious getting to the end." (12.Feb.05)|
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