Film Reviews

ALONG CAME POLLY

By • Jan 16th, 2004 •

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Universal Pictures / Jersey Films / 90 minutes / PG-13

I have two altars at home: one, a tribal mesa, has shamanic power objects and potions; the other is a religious altar with first class relics and icons. After reading all the cover stories on Jennifer Aniston, especially the one in Premiere magazine, I have framed the cover and placed it in the middle of my religious altar. I am now convinced that Jennifer Aniston can heal the sick!
Let us all genuflect at the awesome talent of Aniston. After all, her TV show “Friends” (6 stars-22 minutes. Now, that is truly awesome!) had “huge cultural impact.” I used to be on drugs, until I started watching “Friends” continually. Now, I’m drug free!
Charlize Theron had better watch her back! Jennifer Aniston has left the most influential, brilliant series in TV history to concentrate on her film career. Case in point Ms. Theron: “Along Came Polly.”

Manhattan risk assessor Reuben Feffer (Ben Stiller) is nobody’s idea of a “catch.” He is anal-retentive, has gastro-intestinal problems, and nobody he knows is kind enough to re-christen him “Ben.” He certainly does not know how to pick a wife. On his honeymoon, his bride Lisa (Debra Messing) has sex with a French scuba instructor (a strange physical transformation by Hank Azaria-what’s up with this?).

Returning home alone, Reuben goes back to work and turns to his has-been child actor best friend Sandy (a seriously misshapen Philip Seymour Hoffman. Phil, why do you hate yourself?). Reuben’s boss Stan (Alec Baldwin – you have played this character three times in succession — give it a rest!) likes to fart, hold meetings in bathrooms, and is vulgar. When Sandy poops in his pants at an art opening, Reuben runs right into elementary school friend Polly (Aniston), now a flighty cocktail waitress. Polly is such a free spirit, she has a blind ferret and a messy tenement (but highly lusted after in NYC) apartment!
Polly wants to help Reuben lighten up and start salsa dancing. Well, it certainly is cheaper than therapy.

The third toilet-themed humor involves Rueben getting sick in Polly’s bathroom and clogging up the toilet. It was hilarious! I love irritable bowel syndrome humor! It’s so cutting-edge and fresh!

If this was meant to be Aniston’s THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY, it flounders around without heart. The screenplay is merely a showcase for a guaranteed money-making hit. It is not a vehicle for building an acting career of any lasting impact. It will pay for fancy furniture. Aniston does a serviceable job. She doesn’t embarrass herself like the rest of her “Friends” cast did in their recent movies (SERVING SARA and MARCI X leap to mind). However, Stiller must move on. If he wants to be the next “early era Woody Allen” he is going to have to invest in a role with more psychological honesty. I have no idea why Reuben had such an anal-retentive, loose-bowel personality. Can we blame his racist mom (Michele Lee) or passive non-entity dad (Bob Dishy)?

Am I supposed to work this hard doping out a Stiller comedy?


Credits:
Writer-director: John Hamburg
Producers: Danny DeVito, Michael Shamberg, Stacey Sher
Executive producers: Jane Bartelme, Dan Levine
Director of photography: Seamus McGarvey
Production designer: Andrew Laws
Music: Theodore Shapiro
Costume designer: Cindy Evans
Editors: William Kerr, Nick Moore

Cast:
Reuben: Ben Stiller
Polly: Jennifer Aniston
Sandy: Philip Seymour Hoffman
Lisa: Debra Messing
Stan: Alec Baldwin
Leland: Bryan Brown
Javier: Jsu Garcia
Vivian: Michele Lee
Irving: Bob Dishy
Scuba instructor: Hank Azaria

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