FilmJerk Favorites

A group of unique directors and the essential works that you've got to see.

||| Rob Reiner |||
Rob Reiner

Son of comic genius Carl Reiner, Rob Reiner has picked up the family torch and directed some of the most memorable, quotable, and endearing comedies of the last two decades, and he’s no schmuck when it comes to dramas either.

This is a hilarious spoof filled with biting satire about a filmmaker making a documentary (or “rockumentary” if you will) about a once famous raucous British heavy metal band on a disastrous U.S concert tour, featuring the magnificent talents of co-stars/co-scripters Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Harry Shearer. This granddaddy of the mocumentary speaks to the hard rockin’, air guitar playing 14-year-old boy in us all.

In this low-key sleeper hit based on a Stephen King story four young boys in 1959 Oregon set out on a camping trip in order to see a dead body one of them accidentally found. This is a loving memoir to a simpler time with an exceptionally talented young cast tentatively taking the steps on a road that leads to maturity.

Reiner turns a wry, even caustic, eye on men and women in friendship and in love, and that gray area in between. This is an engaging and smartly performed comedy about a pair of longtime platonic friends who turn a feud into a lasting friendship, determined not to let sex mess up a great relationship, until love threatens to ruin everything.

Recommended by CarrieSpecht

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Hitch

By BrianOrndorf

February 10th, 2005

While it’s great to see Will Smith away from battling robots and aliens, “Hitch” is far too blandly scripted to give the actor much to do. Smith leaves the fun to Kevin James, who steals the movie with his possibly meth-enhanced performance. Without him, “Hitch” is one decidedly dull motion picture.


Alex "Hitch" Hitchens is a dating doctor. Helping shy geeks land the girls of their dreams, Hitch teaches the men to understand and respect women. Hitch's latest client is Albert (Kevin James, "The King of Queens"), a buffoonish accountant with the hots for his company's heiress, Allegra (Amber Valletta, "Raising Helen"). While Hitch finds difficulty educating Albert in the smooth ways of courtship, his attention is stolen by Sara (Eva Mendes), a chilly gossip columnist who challenges Hitch's fast-talking, charismatic ways. Looking to do some wooing of his own, Hitch's plans are thwarted when he learns that she's out to uncover his line of work.

If you're not counting the homoerotic overtones found in the "Bad Boys" movies, I guess it's safe to say that "Hitch" is Will Smith's first foray into a romantic comedy. It's surprising that Smith, an actor who has built a career around one big, boisterous personality, hasn't tried one of these films before. But the bigger surprise is that "Hitch" ends up being a milquetoast and forgettable motion picture even with Smith in the driver's seat.

"Hitch" really is two movies for the price of one. While Smith's character dominates the marketing and the title, bumbling-student-of-love Albert takes up a large amount of screen time with his wooing of Allegra. Unexpectedly, this is where "Hitch" is most funny and assured, tossing away (or at least pretending to) its contrived and sluggish script in favor of romantic slapstick good times, with Kevin James inhaling Chris Farley's ashes and unabashedly flops around. This section of the film also features a very small but agreeable turn from model-cum-actress Amber Valletta. This takes the pressure off of Smith, who gets great comic mileage playing straight man to James, allowing the warmly rotund comedian to steal a sizeable number of scenes away from the star. Their moments of romantic training are the film's highlight, and they make an appealing team too.

When the focus falls back to Hitch's romantic entanglements with Sara, the film is far less interesting. Because "Hitch" doesn't offer anything new to the genre, the hackneyed paths it does take seem extra painful because they stop the film dead. Filmmaker Andy Tennant isn't much of a director to begin with ("Sweet Home Alabama"), and he doesn't seem to realize that his film utterly gives up on being a comedy in its second half, thus losing almost every ounce of charm it's been building up to that point. Smith and Eva Mendes liven up the sometimes bizarre nature of the script (a jet ski sequence set in New York City?) with their charm, especially Mendes, who has never been this charismatically flexible on screen before. But when the brutal script machinations start to impede on their chemistry for no good reason other than to further a story the film doesn't really even need, it destroys the minimal amount of fun "Hitch" was, and makes it start to feel like a college lecture. Clocking in at just under two hours, there's a lot of dramatic fat in "Hitch" that needed to be trimmed to sharpen the focus.

While he has his expected moment of unforgivable cockiness (in an excruciating restaurant scene with a randy client), Will Smith's turn here as Hitch a nice change of pace from the forgettable F/X and action bonanzas that have been filling his dance card the last few years. It's just too bad that Smith wanted to play it so safe and so easy when "Hitch" could've benefited from a stronger vision and much bigger laughs.

My rating: C