Along Came Polly

"Weak"

Along Came Polly Review


Jennifer Aniston must have been struck with serious deja vu while filming one pivotal scene from "Along Came Polly," in which she discovers that a neurotic risk assessor (Ben Stiller) -- whom she's been seeing since his bride dumped him on their honeymoon -- has used his laptop computer to make a list of pros and cons about their relationship, hoping to analyze his way to Ms. Right.

Almost the exact same circumstances once led to the breakup on "Friends" between her Rachel and David Schwimmer's neurotic, risk-averse Ross.

It's just such a tendency toward the derivative that leaves "Along Came Polly" lacking any fresh romantic-comedy punch. A blind pet ferret that wreaks havoc on Stiller's attempted seductions smacks of the dog that did the same in "There's Something About Mary." A scene in which Stiller kisses up to his boss (Alec Baldwin) in the men's room recalls an awkward moment in "Brazil," and the urinal humor that drives the scene is straight out of "Austin Powers" (which was hardly the originator of such gags in the first place).

Writer-director John Hamburg (who penned Stiller's "Zoolander" and "Meet the Parents") often sets up whole scenes for the sake of a single gross-out joke (during a pick-up game of basketball, Stiller does a slow-motion face-plant into the sweaty, hairy chest of an overweight opponent). Yet, he doesn't spend half that energy on developing what is actually a pretty fertile concept about an anally retentive guy who loosens up with the help of a free spirit after his life is turned upside-down.

Polly (Aniston) is a habitually flighty gal whose attraction to uptight Reuben (Stiller) isn't established beyond the fact that they recognized each other from junior high school when meeting by chance soon after his day-old marriage ended in disaster. (In the prologue, he catches his wife -- played by perky "Will and Grace" star Deborah Messing -- knocking flippers with a St. Bart's scuba instructor, played by the amusing, over-buffed and absurdly accented Hank Azaria.)

But even when Reuben and Polly's first date ends almost as badly as his honeymoon (with cheap laughs derived from his irritable bowl syndrome and her overflowing toilet), she still calls him for a second date, inexplicably enough. And as their fling progresses, Hamburg exploits their differences only in superficial ways, like the fact that Stiller is too much of a stiff to dance with her at a salsa club.

The movie's best moments come not from Stiller's shopworn, wide-eyed, slow-motion mugging or from the sparkless attraction of opposites at its core, but courtesy of scene-stealers like Azaria and Baldwin (who's having a career Renaissance with a string of abundantly overbearing roles). In fact, Reuben's bad-advice-giving best friend -- a long-washed-up child actor clinging pathetically to his glory days -- is almost worthy of a movie unto himself, thanks to the incomparable Philip Seymour Hoffman ("The Talented Mr. Ripley," "Almost Famous," "Cold Mountain").

With a down-in-the-dumps hero whose livelihood depends on his anxieties, and a pretty romantic interest dragging the fellow kicking and screaming toward maverick bliss, it's a pity that Woody Allen couldn't have gotten his hands on "Along Came Polly" to lift it above its baser instincts and give it some insightful sophistication and wily wit. Unfortunately, Hamburg aims much lower and still misses his mark.

With a more deeply developed clashing romance, Stiller and Aniston might have held this film together. But while I suppose it's to Hamburg's credit that he didn't use the plot as an excuse for a string of "extreme" gimmick episodes (The risk assessor goes snowboarding!), "Polly" is missing the polish needed to pull off anything more satisfying than a handful of easy guffaws.



Along Came Polly

Facts and Figures

Run time: 90 mins

In Theaters: Friday 16th January 2004

Box Office USA: $87.9M

Box Office Worldwide: $13.6M

Budget: $42M

Distributed by: Universal Pictures

Production compaines: Universal Pictures, Jersey Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 26%
Fresh: 40 Rotten: 116

IMDB: 5.9 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Reuben Feffer, as Polly Prince, as Sandy Lyle, as Lisa Kramer, as Stan, as Claude, as Leland Van Lew, as Javier, as Vivian Feffer, as Irving Feffer, as Roxanne

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Their Finest Movie Review

Their Finest Movie Review

Skilfully written, directed and acted, this offbeat British period film tells a story that catches...

Unforgettable Movie Review

Unforgettable Movie Review

With heavy echoes of trashy thrillers like Fatal Attraction, this movie overcomes its painfully simplistic...

The Belko Experiment Movie Review

The Belko Experiment Movie Review

The kill-or-die scenario that this movie hinges on isn't something new; it's been used in...

The Fate of the Furious Movie Review

The Fate of the Furious Movie Review

With the more dumbed-down title Fast & Furious 8 outside of North America, this overcrowded...

A Quiet Passion Movie Review

A Quiet Passion Movie Review

British writer-director Terence Davies (The Deep Blue Sea) is an expert at digging beneath the...

The Sense of an Ending Movie Review

The Sense of an Ending Movie Review

Julian Barnes' Booker Prize-winning novel is adapted into a remarkably intelligent, gently involving film anchored...

The Boss Baby Movie Review

The Boss Baby Movie Review

There isn't a lot of subtlety in this madcap animated comedy, which is more aimed...

Advertisement
City of Tiny Lights Movie Review

City of Tiny Lights Movie Review

After the latest incarnation of Dredd, director Pete Travis shifts gears drastically for this complex...

Going in Style Movie Review

Going in Style Movie Review

This is only technically a remake of the iconic 1979 film starring movie icons George...

Graduation Movie Review

Graduation Movie Review

Romanian filmmaker Cristian Mungiu (4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days) recounts another staggeringly detailed...

Ghost in the Shell Movie Review

Ghost in the Shell Movie Review

This sci-fi thriller is so visually stunning that it deserves to be mentioned in the...

Free Fire Movie Review

Free Fire Movie Review

Basically a 90-minute shoot-out, there isn't a lot to this movie. British filmmaker Ben Wheatley...

Life Movie Review

Life Movie Review

Like a mash-up of Alien and Gravity, this ripping sci-fi horror movie is very effective...

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

Based on a true story, it's the historical aspect of these events that holds the...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.