Along Came Polly Review
By Shawn McKenzie 01/19/2004
I’m thinking that Ben Stiller is starting to become pigeonholed into the “lovable loser” role. If it’s okay with him, it’s okay with me, because Along Came Polly is the latest example of his hilarity, even though he has already played this part several times before.
Reuben Feffer (Stiller) is a senior risk assessment analyst for Indursky & Sons Insurance. He works for Stan Indursky (Alec Baldwin) where he decides how risky the lifestyles of potential clients are for life insurance. His latest client is Leland Van Lew (Bryan Brown), an Australian businessman who does wild things like shark diving and jumping off buildings. In the meantime, he is marrying real estate agent Lisa Kramer (Debra Messing), followed by their honeymoon in St. Barts. While lounging on the beach, they meet French scuba instructor Claude (Hank Azaria) who invites them to go scuba diving. Reuben bows out, but Lisa goes with him, wherein she cheats on Reuben with him. Reuben and Lisa separate, even though he has bought a new house for them. Reuben’s best friend, Sandy Lyle (Philip Seymour Hoffman), thinks that Reuben needs to date again immediately. Sandy is an actor who was in one hit movie called Crocodile Tears (the movie poster for it looked like the one for The Breakfast Club) where his famous scene involved playing a bagpipe. He is currently playing Judas in the Hell’s Kitchen Community Theater production of Jesus Christ Superstar (though he would prefer to play both Judas and Jesus) and has Dustin (Judah Friedlander) and Vic (Kevin Hart) following him around with cameras for an episode of “E! True Hollywood Story.” He takes Reuben to an art opening for a Dutch artist, where Reuben runs into Polly Prince (Jennifer Aniston), a former middle school classmate who’s now working as a waitress with her friend Roxanne (Missi Pyle.) She isn’t nearly as neurotic as Reuben, yet he finds himself drawn to her. She is an aspiring children’s book writer (though her books are a little graphic, with titles like Boy with a Nub for an Arm) and has a blind ferret named Rudolpho. They go to an Indian restaurant on their first date, which becomes a bad idea when he spends a lot of it in her bathroom. They keep dating, and slowly she shows him how silly his neuroses are. He even impresses her by attempting to learn salsa dancing from her gay friend Javier (Jsu Garcia.) When Lisa comes back in an attempt to win him back, he has a decision to make. Reuben’s parents Vivian (Michele Lee) and Irving (Bob Dishy) like Lisa, yet Polly makes him feel more alive. It may just come down to statistics for him.
This movie automatically brings up thoughts of Stiller’s best movie, There’s Something about Mary. This movie specifically tries to remind you of it with a few gross-out scenes, some of which are a little unnecessary. They try to play off Reuben’s neuroses by having him and Sandy play basketball with some fat, hairy guys. They have a close-up of Reuben’s cheek rubbing up against the chest hair of one of the guys that is really gross. The whole scene wasn’t even needed, but fortunately the movie wasn’t littered with them.
His chemistry with Aniston wasn’t bad. I still think that she is growing as a movie actress, and may soon be bringing in those $20 million paychecks. I want to see her as the lead character again though, as she was in The Good Girl.
Each member of the supporting cast was memorable, though their parts were severely underwritten. I wanted to know more about Sandy and his Corey Feldman-like attitude towards his one hit movie. Brown so rarely does Hollywood movies anymore, so his scenes were almost too quick (I think there was more time spent talking about him rather than showing him.) Baldwin does another memorable cameo here too as the deep-voiced boss who says insensitive things without care.
Azaria was memorable for a different reason. I’m used to seeing this actor in ordinary guy roles or doing half the voices for “The Simpsons,” but in this movie he is surprisingly buff and toned. Hank Azaria…tan with pecs and a six-pack? It was really weird to see.
If you’re not into checking out Oscar contenders this month, Along Came Polly is a good time at the movie theater. January is usually when Hollywood dumps their crap films on us, but this one isn’t bad. As for Stiller…I hate to tell you bud…unless you blow me away with a great dramatic performance soon, you might want to keep the Farrelly Brothers’ number on speed-dial.
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