How many times has Ben Stiller played the same character? Upon first glance, I expected Along Came Polly to just be another reprise of Stiller’s roles in Meet the Parents or Something about Mary. What starts out as a carbon copy of previous Stiller works turns out to be a possible diamond in the rough.
Stiller plays Reuben Feffer, an insurance company risk analyst who spends his days crunching numbers to determine insurability. As the movie starts, he is marrying Lisa (Debra Messing) and they are on their way to St. Bards for the honeymoon. One scuba lesson later, Lisa is getting a deep dive of another kind from the instructor (Azaria), and Reuben’s overly planned life is now turned upside down.
Reuben’s life is spiraling downward until a run in with an old school chum, Polly Prince (Aniston). Polly, predictably, is the polar opposite of the risk-avoiding Reuben. Polly is a waitress who has run from her past several times and now finds herself living in New York with a half blind ferret, Rodolfo. Besides being hella hot and sweet, for some reason Polly writes children’s books about kids being permanently maimed. I still have no clue where that plot point came from.
Anyways, Reuben and Polly begin to see more of each other even after Reuben’s Irritable Bowel Syndrome reeks havoc in Polly’s bathroom. With bathroom disasters and salsa dancing foul ups behind them, Reuben begins to see that some things are worth taking a risk on; with Polly being the catalyst for his transformation.
Director John Hamburg weaves potty humor and a predictable storyline with characters you truly take a liking too. Stiller and Aniston are comfortable together, with Aniston showing that she can make the transformation from the TV screen to the big screen successfully. Phillip Seymour Hoffman plays Reuben’s best friend Sandy Lyle, an actor still living off the glory of a major roll long ago. Hoffman is great in the role of a cocky, self-confident male. . It’s interesting seeing him play yet another character so different from his persona in Boogie Nights.
The absolute scene stealer is Alec Baldwin as Stan Irdursky, Reuben’s boss. With a funny Jewish accent, Stan makes a simple trip to the bathroom and a speech at a wedding side splitting. Who else here feels uncomfortable when a guy takes the urinal right next to you when there are plenty of other free urinals available? Stan’s that guy!
Along Came Polly never actually surprises you nor does it enter uncharted film territory. Yet it does manage to take a standard story and deliver an endearing comedy that’ll keep you laughing, even through the potty humor. In these days of repeating storylines and predictable plots, sometimes that’s all it takes to deliver a diamond in the rough.
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