Along Came Polly (8/10)

Copyright © 2004 by Tony Medley

Along Came Polly suffers from one of the worst trailers I’ve ever seen, which makes the film look imbecilic. But it’s not. Except for a few unfortunate scenes (one of which is in the trailer), it’s a funny, engaging, romantic comedy. For one thing it’s got Jennifer Anniston. If you asked me to name the three best actresses in Hollywood, she’d be one.

Reuben Feffer (Ben Stiller) is a risk assessor whose life is based on minimizing risk. After four years of courtship he marries the woman of his dreams, Lisa Kramer (Debra Messing). On the first night of their honeymoon he catches her cheating on him and goes home devastated. He meets Polly Prince (Anniston), an old middle school classmate, a free spirit who is his direct opposite, and they begin a courtship, much to the dismay of Reuben’s best friend, fledgling actor Sandy Lyle (Philip Seymour Hoffman), who offers constant advice.

Except for a few scenes, writer-director John Hamburg (Zoolander and Meet the Parents), has given us a wonderful picture. One scene takes place on an outdoor basketball court where Reuben has his opponent’s sweaty body rub all over his face. I played pickup basketball for years, and nothing like this ever came close to occurring…only in the movies. The other scenes are in bathrooms. I doubt if I’m alone in not liking to see men urinating, even if it is from behind, and defecating. Hamburg seems addicted to scatological scenes, but he should grow up. These scenes have no raison d’etre, and detract from a very good movie. Hamburg is too talented to try to rely on the shock value of toilet humor.

The only other part of this movie that I felt was below par was the role played by Alec Baldwin as Reuben’s boss, Stan Indursky. Baldwin, who is usually professional, apparently is reprising his role in The Cooler as a “dees, dem, and does” kind of basically illiterate thug boss. It’s a caricature, not funny, and demeans Baldwin’s talent.

Don’t be put off by the fact that most of this review is critical; that’s my job. With those exceptions, I enjoyed Along Came Polly throughout. It’s funny and entertaining.

January 14, 2004

The End