Along Came Polly

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Movie Review by Susan Hodgetts

Starring: Ben Stiller, Jennifer Aniston, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Debra Messing
Director: John Hamburg

From director John Hamburg (who co-wrote Ben Stiller’s other hits MEET THE PARENTS and ZOOLANDER), comes a romantic comedy to showcase once again Stiller’s talents, this time along with former FRIEND Jennifer Aniston. But despite these enticing facts, this film is nothing groundbreaking.

Stiller plays his usual geeky goofball (in fact he could have just been playing Greg Fokker in “Meet the Commitment Phobe”). Starring as Reuben Feffer, an insurance risk analyst, he has his life all planned out, until his first wife Lisa (WILL & GRACE’S Debra Messing) deserts him on the first day of their honeymoon – for a scuba diving instructor she’s known for two hours. He consequently runs into Jennifer Aniston’s Polly, someone he hasn’t seen since seventh grade and with a character completely the opposite to his. Might the old saying opposites attract prove true?

Well you don’t have to be Sherlock to guess the answer to that question but unfortunately a complete lack of chemistry between Stiller and Aniston means it’s hard to believe that she would fall for Stiller’s character in the first place. After such a disastrous first date (during which he completely floods her bathroom amongst various other horrors) not only does she not seem to react but she actually seems keen for more. (I can’t imagine this being the reaction of most women). Aniston is fine but you can’t help feeling frustrated that this role does not allow her to show whether she can do more than Rachel Green. If she wants to be taken more seriously she will need meatier roles than commitment phobe Polly, who was far too contrived as the complete extreme to Stiller’s Reuben.

The best bit of the film was the brilliant Hank Azaria’s naturist Frenchman Claude (not just because he’s never fully clothed), the scuba diving nut who steals Stiller’s first wife. Philip Seymour Hoffman provides an interesting diversion as Reuben’s best friend, Sandy Lyle, a former bagpipe playing child star who can’t get over the fact he’s not important any more, and there’s a turn from Alec Baldwin as Reuben’s boss Stan Indursky.

An amiable movie but nothing more.

4 out of 6 stars