Hitch | 2005
Will Smith is Alex Hitchens, the ‘date doctor’ who teaches men how to get the women of their dreams – quite a creepy concept, since his success rate suggests that the women have no will of their own. This could be a promising psychological thriller, but turns out to be a rom-com.
The opening sequence illustrates some of Hitch’s techniques. And, yes, that is the Ghostbusters firestation seen in the opening montage as Hitch gives advice to the lovestruck fireman, the 8 Hook and Ladder Firehouse, 14 North Moore Street.
He sets up a scam for another client, saving a little dog from beneath the wheels of a taxi, at 865 West End Avenue, at West 102nd Street on the Upper West Side; and fixes life for a smitten actor appearing at the open-air Delacorte Theatre, just off of 80th street on the southwest corner of the Great Lawn in Central Park.
The Delacorte is best known for its Shakespeare in the Park productions every summer, where you can catch Hollywoodsters – who’ve included the likes of James Earl Jones, Kevin Kline, Al Pacino, Denzel Washington and Meryl Streep – tackling those iambic pentameters.
Just to reassure us about Hitch’s principles, we see him give a hard time to the obnoxious Vance Munson (Jeffrey Donovan), whose sole object is to ‘bang’ the object of his affection. It’s in Balthazar Restaurant, 80 Spring Street at Crosby Street, that Vance ends up in an armlock.
The assignment at the firehouse must have been particularly convenient for Hitch, since his stylish apartment stands almost directly opposite, at 25 North Moore Street at Varick Street. Clearly a popular neighbourhood – only a few hundred yards away on Broadway is the apartment of Justin Timberlake from Friends With Benefits.
Gossip columnist Sara Melas (Eva Mendes) works at The New York Standard, which seems to have its office in the International Toy Center, 200 5th Avenue, alongside 23rd Street subway station, where she picks up her newspaper at the newsstand every morning. It's a busy office building – it's also the premises of Bradley Cooper's publisher in Neil Burger's Limitless.
Hitch plays pool with his pal Ben (Michael Rapaport), and later comes on to Sara with an artfully post-modern chat up, at the now-closed Amp Lounge, which stood at 25 9th Avenue at 13th Street.
Albert is carrying a torch for his boss, the glamorous Allegra Cole (Amber Valletta), at the offices of ‘O’Brian, Thompson and Kincaid’, housed in Mies van der Rohe’s landmark Seagram Building, 375 Park Avenue.
At the same time, Hitch is looking after his own lovelife, setting up an unorthodox date with Sara at 7am on a Sunday morning at North Cove, the yacht marina down in Battery Park City. They’re soon motorboating out to Ellis Island, where Hitch’s would-be cute surprise goes embarrassingly wrong.
Once the major port of entry to the US, it’s estimated that nearly half of all Americans today can trace their family history to at least one person who passed through the Port of New York at Ellis Island. If you can’t handle a motorboat, you might find it easier to take the ferry out to visit the museum, housed in the old complex’s Main Building.
Despite Hitch’s faux pas, Sara reveals to her girlfriend that she’s thinking about seeing him again as they enjoy rice pudding (yes, a rice pudding snack bar) at Rice To Riches, 37 Spring Street between Mulberry Street and Mott Street in Chinatown. You can’t miss the restaurant’s distinctive oval door/windows.
Sara duly invites Hitch to a ‘food rave’ at the Fulton Fish Market, on the riverfront at the east end of Fulton Street, where he suffers a severe allergic reaction to coquille st jacques. In 2005, the long-standing market relocated to the Bronx. You can see it as it was in Splash! and 1998’s Godzilla.
Sara and Hitch stock up on heinous amounts of Benadryl in King’s Pharmacy, 241 Bedford Avenue at North 3rd Street. Under the influence of the medicine, Hitch opens up and reveals a little too much as they walk by the fountain in City Hall Park, Broadway at Park Row South.
He crashes out on the sofa at Sara’s place, 80 Greene Street at Spring Street, an apartment block she apparently shares with Derek and his catwalk friends from Zoolander.
In pursuit of the mysterious ‘date doctor’, Sara confronts Vance at his workplace, the old Cunard Building, 25 Broadway, and manages to get contact details, before leaving him with his head stuck up the bum of the famous Charging Bull in the Financial District. The Cunard Building's lobby became a hotel in 2014 Keanu Reeves thriller John Wick.
Meanwhile, Albert’s romancing of Allegra speeds ahead as he teaches her to whistle at a basketball game at Madison Square Garden, and even manages a successful kiss as he drops her off at her swish Upper West Side apartment, River Mansions, 337 West 106th Street, at Riverside Drive.
Having finally discovered that Hitch himself is the mysterious fixer-upper she’s been tracking, Sara arranges a set-up at the Tisch Children’s Zoo at 64th Street and 5th Avenue in Central Park.
Once Sara has made his devious tactics public, Albert goes apeshit and trashes the newsstand at 77th Street and Columbus Avenue.
Hitch causes ructions when he tries to clear things up with Sara by crashing a speed dating evening. The striking venue, with its giant Buddha statue, is Tao, 42 East 58th Street. What was the old Plaza movie theatre has been transformed into an imposing Asian ‘temple’, serving up a mix of – not strictly authentic – Chinese/Japanese dishes.
This being a rom-com, the misunderstandings are eventually straightened out, and Albert and Allegra get hitched at at Old Westbury Gardens, 71 Old Westbury Road, the Phipps Estate, a few miles south of Glen Cove on Long Island. A screen favourite, the estate can also be seen in North By Northwest, Love Story, Cruel Intentions and Wolf, among others.