The Reel Story: This past weekend, the effortlessly charming Will Smith propelled yet another film into the #1 spot at the box office — "Hitch." However, while Smith has always charmed the ladies in his movies, his turn as Alex "Hitch" Hitchens finds him in a new role — the romantic lead. Smith's Hitch is a swinging New York "date doctor" who makes a living as an instructor in the ways of wooing women.
Kevin James' woefully fumbling Albert enlists the aid of Hitch to help him connect with his dream girl, heiress Allegra Cole (Amber Valletta — who's probably pretty comfortable in that role). Hitch schools Albert in the ways of the world, basically putting him through a one-on-one charm school. He learns to dance, make small talk and, of course, gets his back waxed. His credo (stale though it may be) is "Any man has a chance to sweep a woman off her feet. He just needs the right broom." Hitch is a one-man "Extreme Makeover" and Dr. Phil, helping the clueless jump into the dating pool.
Meanwhile, he's romancing — with mixed success — Eva Mendes' Sara, promptly forgetting his own lessons and generally acting a fool.
Of course, we can't help but wonder, are there real date doctors? And can they really help?
The Real Story: Of course there are. Since the dawn of the human race, people have been trying to figure out how to make a love match, and more than a few professionals have made a living trying to help them. In fact, back in the day, parents would hire matchmakers to find their children advantageous matches. This is still popular in some parts of the world, but doesn't really fly in Western culture.
Thus, the date doctor comes into play, to help people to date with more success and hopefully find their own mate. One such date doctor, David Coleman, is the author of several relationship books, makes public speaking appearances, has appeared on CNN and has been in the pages of Us Weekly.
Coleman has said that his life is remarkably like that of Hitch, but that he doesn't stand on street corners asking for business. We also bet he's not dating Eva Mendes. He speaks to large groups at a time on the college lecture circuit and also addresses corporate groups ... one-on-one business partnerships like the one Will Smith and Kevin James strike up are mighty rare. He is also not actually a doctor, but has a master's degree in personnel administration.
There are also a lot of interesting characters out there who offer their coaching skills, but who may or may not be qualified to dispense advice. One such romance coach, Reid Mihalko, teaches a romance class for men called Malekind 2.0. He also hosts "cuddle parties" that, according to his Web site, are designed to provide a space to explore and enjoy touch, nurturing and communication in a non-sexualized way.
Finally, there are traditional counselors and therapists who specialize in helping people who are having difficulty in the romance and socialization department. These experts won't teach you how to dance, or the finer techniques of a pickup line, but they will help your self-esteem and give your confidence a boost. Not exactly Big Willie style, but it beats watching "The Bachelorette" and eating Lean Cuisine.
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