Along Came Polly

"Weak"

Along Came Polly Review


Maybe Ben Stiller should take a break. Not a big one. Just a little breather. Along Came Polly is the first of his four 2004 releases, and it feels like a project coasted through between commitments, some freelance rom-com work to fill the few weeks where Owen Wilson or Janeane Garofalo are busy. Stiller could play Reuben Feffer, an over-cautious risk-management specialist, in his sleep, and Jennifer Aniston's work as the titular Polly -- down-to-earth yet worldly, always late and allegedly loveable -- feels almost remedial after her participation in The Good Girl. And oh, the plot turns they must suffer through! Reuben's marriage falls apart; he asks Polly out on the rebound; their personalities clash; there's even a variation on that old bit where the girl reads something mildly insensitive that the boy never meant for her to see; did Aniston, I wonder, find motivation for this scene from its appearance on Friends years ago?

The thing is, on paper this movie doesn't seem like a pointless timekiller -- or at least like such a forgettable one. The writer-director is John Hamburg, who previously worked with Stiller as a writer on Zoolander and Meet the Parents, two projects that make particularly good use of the actor's talent for silliness and embarrassment, respectively. And there's a fairly crack supporting cast: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Alec Baldwin, Hank Azaria, and Debra Messing. The lack of inspiration and the accompanying clichés about the value of "taking risks" and opposites attracting, then, are like a supernatural force, weighing the movie down. Like gravity, but more persistent.

Oh, there's funny stuff in this movie -- there was some funny stuff in Duplex, too; it's hard to make an absolutely terrible movie starring Ben Stiller, because Ben Stiller is a funny guy. He has good timing, excellent delivery, a durable persona, and a willingness to look foolish if necessary (or even if somewhat unnecessary). There's a funny sequence where Reuben attempts to master salsa-dancing, and many scenes featuring Stiller's ever-furrowed brow, maybe the funniest brow in the movie business, continually registering discomfort.

But Aniston's Polly is a hopeless character; her persona isn't quite as durable as Stiller's. Aniston is playing the sitcom version of a boho free spirit -- that is to say, she's basically playing Rachel of Friends with a less posh apartment. Polly has relatively common tastes that Reuben and the movie mistake for quirks; oh, how she loves funky ethnic food and cherishes her pet ferret! The screenplay has the tenacity to pretend that this warmed-over hippie is just about the kookiest gal in New York City (where risk-averse Reuben improbably lives).

Is this really John Hamburg's pet project as a writer-director, the movie he just had to make? I didn't love Meet the Parents, but it had a certain purity, a singularity of purpose that Along Came Polly aimlessly lacks. It's the type of comedy that seems learned from watching other bad movies. Even the invaluable Philip Seymour Hoffman, as Reuben's uncouth best friend, is essentially doing his best Jack Black imitation, and Hank Azaria reprises a bit from America's Sweethearts, of all things. Both are sort of funny in the moment, but the lack of comic originality leaves a bad taste in your mouth; there's a real sense of calculation behind even the funnier parts of Along Came Polly, an unsettling feeling that the Hoffman and Azaria characters, along with Alec Baldwin's vulgar boss, were designed as audience favorites, not written as human beings.

There are worse movies than Along Came Polly; some bad romantic comedies don't have Stiller, Hoffman, or Azaria at all. But when the Ben Stiller filmography includes movies as richly funny as Zero Effect, Mystery Men, and The Royal Tenenbaums, this one just feels like a bad date.

Easy come, easy go.



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

Colossal Movie Review

Colossal Movie Review

It's rare to find a movie that so defiantly refuses to be put into a...

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Movie Review

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Movie Review

It's unlikely that Guy Ritchie could make a boring movie if he wanted to. This...

Snatched Movie Review

Snatched Movie Review

It doesn't really matter that the script for this lively action-comedy is paper thin: teaming...

Jawbone Movie Review

Jawbone Movie Review

Boxing movies aren't usually this thoughtful. Sure, there are plenty of punchy moments in the...

Whisky Galore! Movie Review

Whisky Galore! Movie Review

Scottish filmmaker Gillies MacKinnon (Hideous Kinky) remakes the 1949 Ealing comedy classic, although it's difficult...

Alien: Covenant Movie Review

Alien: Covenant Movie Review

Master filmmaker Ridley Scott is back to continue the story 10 years after the events...

The Journey (2017) Movie Review

The Journey (2017) Movie Review

A fictionalised account of real events, this drama is reminiscent of Peter Morgan's work in...

Advertisement
Sleepless Movie Review

Sleepless Movie Review

In remaking the 2011 French thriller Sleepless Night, the filmmakers have dumbed down both the...

Unlocked Movie Review

Unlocked Movie Review

By injecting a steady sense of fun, this slick but mindless action thriller both holds...

Lady Macbeth Movie Review

Lady Macbeth Movie Review

A seriously impressive feature directing debut with a star-making central performance, this period British drama...

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Movie Review

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Movie Review

It was never going to be easy to match the impact of 2014's Guardians of...

The Promise Movie Review

The Promise Movie Review

The director of Hotel Rwanda, Terry George, turns to another humanitarian horror: the systematic murder...

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...

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.