PictureColumbia have released Hitch with an anamorphically enhanced 2.40:1 image that, much like the film, is reasonable, reliable and unfussy. But, whilst the picture is all very clear and blissfully free of any print damage, grain or digital devilry, it still comes across as a little dry and flat. As one character in the film puts it “Colours ... they seem dull.” And he's right. The colour palette is hardly audacious, favouring warmth over vibrancy, reservation over scintillation. This is probably due in the main to the actual movie itself lacking real verve in the visual department, but the disc still seems to mute proceedings a bit further.
Interiors, such as nightclubs and bars take a downturn too, looking a lot murkier, softer and more indistinct than their brighter counterparts on the outside. But, having said that, the sunny side of the street can often appear quite hazy, with whites and bright surfaces tending to glare a little too harshly at times. The scene on Allegra's yacht, for instance, is so faint and shimmery that it reminded me more of an episode of TV's Quincy. So, detail is often short-changed - diamonds don't sparkle, cars don't gleam, fountains lack vigour and the sheen of the well-heeled seems worn away. Backgrounds are utilised quite liberally throughout to aid the cosmopolitan, twenty-four-seven action of the city, but they lack the stability and clarity to effectively place you in the heart of the Big Apple.
The black levels are actually only tested sparingly, but they are quite nice and rich, lending a distinct sense of depth to the club and street scenes. So don't get me wrong here - the picture, overall, has no major defects, and remains quite pleasing throughout, but I feel that a bit more effort could have been made. The movie is a slick, well polished chrome 'n' charisma vehicle that feels a tad cheated by its visual transfer, subduing the smart, feel-good vibe that it positively fizzes with.
SoundWell, as you would expect for a film of this nature, the Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is a very low-key affair. It is clear, warm and lively throughout, but with the rears only kicking in to toss in some occasional ambience and to generally help the score bubble along, the back of the room will feel quite empty and forlorn. Everything is well presented ... it's just that it's all up front. The one moment of sound steerage excitement comes when Hitch, hideously deformed due to a food allergy, panics in his search for medication and we are finally allowed some whip-around sensation. But, to be honest, the film doesn't need any fancy directional antics, so the lack of them is no detriment at all. George Fenton's jazzy score always perks up the speakers with a warm, but gentle, workout. Dialogue is never swamped, lost or distorted and there is some nicely realistic ambience in the form of street noises and background office babble. With such a mellow and laid-back sound mix, you've no need to worry about the neighbours.
ExtrasWhat initially might appear to be a good selection of bonus material soon deteriorates into a series of one-view-is-enough mini-extras that just tend to play up the sheer fun of working with Will Smith in the fabulous city that never sleeps.
The Gag-Reel (3.45) is neither funny nor very revealing. The whole set comes across as very sleek and self-conscious. Almost set up, in fact. Of the three Deleted Scenes, only the first one, detailing the re-appearance of Hitch's ex-girlfriend, Cressida, adds any real weight and subtext. For this one Andy Tennant provides a quite lengthy introduction as to why it was removed. The last one is purely an alternative title sequence cut to George Fenton's score instead of the songs that eventually replaced it. The songs do work better, in actual fact.
Then we get five featurettes to enhance your knowledge of what it takes to produce a flakey-pastry, formulaic rom-com with one BIG STAR in it. Dance Steps Made Easy(8.15) takes an unnecessarily hefty look at the physical comedy highpoint. Love In New York (6.50) is just a love letter to the Big Apple, full of “We've never seen this part of town filmed before” waffle and much showing off of locations. Glitzy, schmaltzy, polished and ultimately shallow. High Style (6.30) is a rather pointless expose of the costume work that went into the film, taking in the required sophistication and fashion talk. I could understand this from The Lord Of The Rings or Alexander - but a contemporary comedy in New York! Come on, folks. The Dating Experts (11.20) chronicles the codes and rules, creed and advice that were actually culled from women's magazines for use as Hitch's revelatory teachings, and then we get to meet some real love doctors. This is just utterly lame disc-filler - precisely who is this stuff aimed at? And finally we get the whistle-stop, record-breaking tour that Will Smith did to promote the movie in the UK in Will Smith's Red Carpet Race (3.50). More lame filler, folks.
Oh, and we get the video for “1 Thing” from Amerie.
VerdictA better than average romantic comedy that fails to deliver any intellectual resonance, but gets by on sheer charisma value alone. It's also quite refreshing to see this Hollywood search for love is actually free from just teenage thrill-sex, like so many other tales of unlikely love, these days. The disc will hardly set the world on fire though. The extras are pure filler and will hardly stand more than one viewing but the AV quality is fine for the undemanding. Lightweight then, but still quite entertaining in its own right, Hitch only outstays its welcome with the appalling dance-off finale. You'll know it when it comes and, like me, wish you'd been quicker to find the remote.
Our Review Ethos