MOVIE REVIEW: “Along Came Polly” stars Ben Stiller (The Secret Life of Walter Mitty , Tropic Thunder), Jennifer Aniston (Friends [TV series], Office Space), Philip Seymour Hoffman (Punch-Drunk Love, The Savages), Debra Messing (Will & Grace [TV series], The Wedding Date), Alec Baldwin (The Departed , Glengarry Glen Ross), Bryan Brown (Gods of Egypt, Cocktail), and Hank Azaria (America’s Sweethearts, The Simpsons [TV series]). It is written and directed by John Hamburg (I Love You Man, Why Him?).
After his wife leaves him on his honeymoon, uptight risk analyst Reuben Feffer (Stiller) seeks to move on with his life by getting into a relationship with a woman who lives life carefree: Polly Prince (Aniston).
“Along Came Polly” is one of those staple features that would play at my house. It’s one of the many movies my dad pulls quotes from, as it is a tightly-wound story with plenty of humorous lines. One night, after a long day, I figured I’d sit down and critique it for funsies.
For those of you who don’t know, this film is one of the many late 90’s/early 2000’s Ben Stiller comedies that showcase his talent for playing the funny straightman in series of strange situations. He is wickedly good at being the fish-out-of-water, and in “Along Came Polly,” he plays a cautious risk analyst who is shown what it is like to be more carefree. To me, Stiller is the man in Hollywood I relate to the most; not only does the man act, but he writes and directs. Something I am looking to do (and when it comes to acting, I tend to gravitate toward the roles he does). However, he didn’t absorb those positions on this, as he simply came in to perform John Hamberg’s wacky piece filled with quality comedic talent.
This movie is fast, loud, and wild. Spanning a tight hour and thirty minute runtime, there’s no stopping this train from blowing past joke after joke, and comedic situation after comedic situation. It’s a silly story. Stiller’s character Reuben is left by his wife on their honeymoon when she sleeps with their scuba instructor. And that’s just the opening. The rest is an adventure unlike any other that play up Stiller’s skills and the strong chemistry he has with Jennifer Aniston.
Aniston gets along with just about everybody in cinema (at least when it comes to the men or women she acts opposite). I haven’t really seen her in a bad part, though I will say that she isn’t the most versatile. She’s easy on the eyes and knows comedy well. Her role of Polly Prince is certainly fun and quirky, especially with her pet weasel thrown into the mix. Not only is she entertaining, but the rest of this cast is too. Philip Seymour Hoffman dominates the screen. His loud, bombastic nature kills me; the boardroom speech he gives toward the end is too good, and he took the role of “main character’s best friend” phenomenally. The rest of this ensemble includes the likes of Debra Messing, Alec Baldwin (who my dad quotes a ton, particularly the line “mazel mazel, good things good things”), Bryan Brown, and Hank Azaria (“up for some scuba?”). Truly a wonderful cast and the strongest element of this flick.
The story that unfolds for this, while predictable, is entertaining. As I said, the performances sell it, but there’s also a nice theme of not living your life in extreme caution. I can relate to Reuben in the sense of wanting to play it safe, and the humor that stems from this in the situations he finds himself in work well. We all know how it will end and there are definitely elements that could have been strengthened or given more time to (the side arc of Leland Van Lew [Brown], while funny, felt kind of lumped in), but at the end of the day “Along Came Polly” did what it was made to: give us a laugh while teaching us a lesson.
Is this film among the elite of its time? No. But it has moments that last, due greatly in part to the actors who inhabit them. This movie has a nostalgic hold on myself, personally, and no matter how many times I watch it, it’s a fun time. The story is light, at times bonkers, and full of tour de force comedic performances that make it worthy of a recommendation. If you find yourself looking for a comedy, this one isn’t a bad pick. FINAL SCORE: 78%= Juicy Popcorn
Here is the trailer: