Recommended with caution. This is a very well written romantic comedy. Lots of great insights about the difference between men and women. Spot on insights. And also very funny. Brilliant acting by Will Smith in the lead role as Alex Hitchens, a date doctor that helps timid men catch the women of their dreams. So, to him, it’s all about the game, as he says, “without guile, there is no game.” Of course, Hitch meets his match when he falls for a cynical tabloid journalist, Sara, played by Eva Mendes. In fact, there was so much balance of truth in this movie, that I could not begin to cover it all. So just a few. First of all, the problem with most current romantic comedies is their assumption of modern romance and fornication as an assumed consumative expression of love. Whereas traditional romances place that consummation at the end in the context of marriage, most modern romances use it as a plot point to establish growth in the relationship outside of marriage. We have become such a degenerate society that what I am complaining about now is considered absurd to even talk about. To hold off until marriage isn’t even a thought in most teens minds let alone adults. Be that as it may, this movie is remarkably almost free from such folly. Well, it has some in the beginning when Hitch’s set up for a few couples is shown to be successful through fornication. But interestingly, the dominant two storylines of Hitch and his funny sidekick ARE NOT done in this manner. The main characters’ stories do not include fornication as the consummation or import of the relationships. Hitch’s fat sidekick, Albert, ends in marriage, in the traditional way, and Hitch’s story does not include fornication either. At least none was even hinted at. You know, no fade outs, or obvious indications that they slept together. What a delightful surprise. But in a way, its in the story because Hitch is on the level of a womanizer, he’s a player, who knows all the “tricks” to get a woman’s attention. Even though his intent is a good one, that is, “Any man can sweep any woman off her feet,” even dopey, shy or timid men, if they just play by the rules can overcome their disadvantages. He says “90% of what you’re saying ain’t coming out of your mouth.” As most men, in their pursuit of women, are quick to invoke machismo or sexuality and are thinking more of themselves, Hitch teaches them to listen to a woman, watch her closely, and be cool, distant, not desperate. It’s not sexuality that they are interested in, it’s heart. It’s not machismo, it’s confidence and support. It’s basically a man who cares enough to know everything about a woman for her own sake, not for a means to an end. And its also about a man who cares more for a woman’s strength and happiness than asserting his own power over her. But there’s a hitch in all this. The goal of Hitch teaching Albert how to catch the impossible rich woman, he seeks to teach him how to be cool and classy. How to avoid the awkwardness and foolishness of his insecure or inferior status. Yet, by the movie’s end, Hitch discovers that the very things that turned the rich woman on about Albert were the things that made Albert original and himself. At just the moment when the rich woman discovers that Hitch was training Albert, she feels betrayed, that it was all an act. But they both discover that the things she loved about the guy, were not an act. His asthmatic breather, his two-fingered whistling, and other things that Hitch was trying to suppress were what sold the woman on Albert. So Hitch realizes that he didn’t help Albert to act, he only helped him to be himself and more confident, and therein lies the redemption of the movie. Being yourself truly and maximizing your own strengths are the best things for finding a mate because putting on airs or playing a game is false character. So the point of it is that the “game” is not a good thing to play. Hitch says another theme of the movie, “Life is not the amount of breaths you take, it’s the moments that take your breath away.” Yes. Quality over quantity. Smell the roses. Realize that the moments of highs are what we have in a life of normality, and that’s okay. We just need to recognize those rather than being so focused on what we want to achieve that we miss the small things of beauty and life. As John Lennon said, “Life is what happens when you’re making other plans.” Don’t miss the beauty of the little things in life or more accurately, the beautiful moments are where we find the happiness we are looking for. And therein lies the central conceit of the Romance genre: the proposition that the meaning and significance of life are found in the romantic love of another person, rather than the love of God, or even a higher purpose in living. Don’t get me wrong, I love traditional romance, it’s just that it is empty unless it has a higher transcendent context to give it meaning. Otherwise it is just humanistic self-deception. We’re telling ourselves fairytales to suppress the ultimate darkness to come: death. Without transcendence, we are fools to think there is any meaning in anything in life, other than the “game” of significance we lie to ourselves and create. I read a great few paragraphs by Lee Siegel, about the difference of modern romantic sex with traditional romance that bears repeating here: “The effect of Hollywood’s portrayal of sex as both the literal and symbolic center of existence is incalculable, especially the political effect. The tacit bargain used to be that working-class and middle-class Americans expected, in exchange for playing by the rules, that the popular culture they turned to for relaxation would reflect back to them positive images of people who played by the rules. Or at the very least they wouldn’t be made to feel foolish or excluded for dutifully following the rules. The function of a generation of romantic comedies a la Doris Day, and sitcoms a la ‘The Honeymooners’ or ‘The Dick Van Dyke Show’ was to ennoble disappointment, limitations, and the postponement—sometimes forever—of gratification. There’s scarcely any delay between a wish and its fulfillment in today’s movies, where beautiful-looking people are regularly, and graphically, gratifying themselves with other beautiful-looking people. The decline of the sitcom means that the terms of the old tacit bargain are slowly being ignored on the small screen, too, which is an even more consequential development, given that medium’s domestic immediacy.”—Lee Siegel, writing on “The Moviegoer,” in the Feb. 14 issue of the Nation. Of course, Hitch is all about playing by the rules in the traditional sense, but neglects the greater significance of transcendent values, of a God who loves that we may love or a God who values his creation that we may find value in it.