The awareness of familiarity will either sink or swim Along Came Polly, the newest film involving the never ending humiliation of Ben Stiller in movies. By now we all know that Stiller plays essentially the same character in all of his movies, and Along Came Polly bears much resemblance to the one that started it all, There’s Something About Mary.
Stiller plays Reuben Feffer, a man who evaluates risks for a living. He does so to determine whether or not a client qualifies for an insurance plan. He seems to have a computer program that does his job for him, but that’s a moot point. Reuben is cautious, and for good reason in today’s world.
We pick up with Reuben at his wedding, when he is marrying Lisa (Messing). They take off to the Caribbean for their honeymoon, and before Reuben can even get the champagne opened she is cheating on him with a sleazy scuba instructor, Claude (a ridiculously ripped Hank Azaria). She decides to stay on the island with Claude, and Reuben takes off.
Upon arriving home he meets Polly (Aniston). They were classmates back in middle school, and Reuben soon believes that they have met because they are destined to be together. They begin “dating”, but Lisa soon comes crawling back. What’s a guy to do?
There is very little here that has not been done before (and done better), but the film won me over. The show-stealer is not Stiller or Aniston, but Philip Seymour Hoffman as Reuben’s disgusting friend Sandy. He was a former child actor (in one movie, of course), and he still believes he has the magic. Hoffman has always been one of my favorite actors, and he steals every scene he is in here.
I mentioned familiarity at the start of this review, and it is the key to liking this film. I went in expecting exactly what the film turned out to be, so how could I be disappointed? We must face the facts here; seeing Ben Stiller get humiliated is becoming an American film tradition. He is always so innocent and so nice, and he always gets dumped on by women, spicy food, bad zippers, sweaty fat guys playing basketball, etc. If you’re not in the mood for that kind of silliness, you won’t find much to like here.
When all is said and done, familiarity won me over in Along Came Polly. The performances are good (especially Hoffman), the story is a bit stale, but the execution is above average. This is a solid entry into the “Ben Stiller Humiliation” set, which I’m sure will be on DVD soon.
Studio: Universal Pictures
Length: 90 Minutes
Rating: PG-13 for sexual content, language, crude humor, and some drug references.
Theatrical Release: January 16, 2004
Directed by: John Hamburg
Written by: John Hamburg
Cast: Ben Stiller, Jennifer Aniston, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Debra Messing, Alec Baldwin, Hank Azaria