A/V Room









Along Came Polly (12A)

Review by: Jack Foley | Rating: Two

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Director's audio commentary; Deleted scenes; Out-takes; Making of; Original opening; Rodolfo Goes To Hollywood; Regions 2/4.

BEN Stiller has proven himself quite adept at playing the romantic misfit, a socially inept, but likeable loser, who usually gets the girl, despite no end of self-humiliation in the process.

Think about his most obvious turn, in There’s Something About Mary (and that zipper incident!), or, to a lesser degree, his rabbi’s attempts to court in Keeping The Faith, or even his inept attempt to win over a father, in Meet the Parents.

All find Stiller at his most accident-prone and vulnerable, so it is little wonder to find that Along Came Polly, which charts similar territory, is just as enjoyable, even if the formula is beginning to wear a little thin.

Stiller stars as risk assessment consultant, Reuben Feffer, who, having made a life for himself by forward planning, suddenly finds his world shattered when he catches his bride (Will & Grace’s Debra Messing) shagging a tour guide (Hank Azaria) on the first day of their honeymoon.

Enter Polly Prince (Jennifer Aniston), a former high school colleague turned care-free waitress, who offers him the possibility of getting his life back on track, if he can start to take some risks.

Hence, Feffer’s orderly lifestyle gets turned on its head, as he is forced to think again about love, life and living each day as it comes.

And while the ensuing comedy of errors treads a well-worn path towards its predictable conclusion, it is considerably buoyed by a strong support cast, and some laugh-out-loud moments of hilarity.

The support players, in particular, help to make proceedings a lot more enjoyable than they really ought to be, with compulsive scene-stealer, Philip Seymour Hoffman, as Stiller’s arrogant slob of a best friend, presenting a genuinely crowd-pleasing accomplice, and Alec Baldwin, neatly cast as a politically incorrect Jewish boss, seldom failing to raise a chuckle, while displaying some surprisingly accomplished comic timing.

Bryan Brown also crops up as a daredevil entrepreneur, who helps to put Feffer’s judgement to the test, while Messing and Azaria do well, despite some fairly flimsy material.

Writer-director, John Hamburg, also builds on the good work he has done with Stiller on Meet The Parents, while the gags, if largely playing towards the gross-out crowd, are funny enough not to appear too crass.

This is, at the end of the day, a comedy with a big heart, which delivers some characters that are worth rooting for, despite a torrent of farts, sweat, irritable bowels and sight-impaired house pets.

The film is also notable for marking another big screen outing for Aniston, who continues to move away from her Friends persona as another kooky girlfriend.

Having been paired with Jim Carrey, in Bruce Almighty, she now finds herself with Stiller as a romantic ‘other half’, and builds some decent chemistry in what is, really, a thankless role.

Comic highlights include an especially painful ‘first-date dinner’ sequence, and a rather disgusting game of basketball, in which Hoffman yet again shines (just wait to you get a load of his ‘shvarts’ explanation), all of which evoke memories of some of the more exaggerated Farrelly Brothers’ excesses.

This is, quite simply, harmless fun, which is an ideal way to unwind at the end of a stressful day. It may carry the whiff of a stale burp, rather than a breath of fresh air, but it’s a guilty pleasure, nonetheless.

# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z