Along Came Polly full movie review - Polly Is Folly
Hollywood has typecast comedian Ben Stiller as a neurotic yuppie. In "Flirting with Disaster," "There's Something about Mary," and "Meet the Parents," Stiller suffered humiliation of the worst sort while audiences laughed themselves silly watching his outrageous antics.
In "Safe Men" director John Hamburg's romantic comedy of masochistic errors, "Along Came Polly," Stiller fails to recapture the hilarity of those earlier epics, despite writer & director Hamburg's best efforts to shtick to his love-smitten hero. Although some genuine laughs brighten things up as a result of Stiller's moronic misfortunes, the folly of "Along Came Polly" is Hamburg, who penned "Zoolander" and "Meet the Parents," shamelessly retreads routines that Still has already milked to death in funnier films, like "Flirting," "Mary," and "Parents." Worse, when Hamburg should keep audiences chuckling about Stiller's amorous endeavors to woo sexy "Friends" star Jennifer Anniston, he shifts the spotlight onto supporting characters that lack both the charisma and the chemistry of Ben Stiller and Jennifer Anniston.
Cast as yet another neurotic yuppie, Ben Stiller plays Reuben Feffer, a senior risk assessment analyst at the New York City based life insurance firm of Indursky & Sons. "Along Came Polly" opens with Reuben getting hitched to real estate agent Lisa Kramer (Debra Messing of TV's "Will & Grace") who gave him a great deal on a new home. Reuben marries Lisa because his risk analysis calculations predict that they are highly compatible. No sooner have they embarked on their honeymoon in St. Barts than Lisa has a fling with a smooth-talking French scuba diving gigolo, Claude (scene-stealing Hank Azaria of "The Birdcage," with an absurd accent), who combs the beaches in his birthday suit. After our cuckolded Lothario catches his bride in the act with Claude, he flies back to the Big Apple, only to find a 'welcome back/so sorry' basket awaiting him in his office with a book entitled "When Bad Things Happen to Good People." Reuben's best friend, Sandy Lyle (paunchy Philip Seymour Hoffman of "Almost Famous"), a washed-up, egotistical, ex-child star, drags him out to a Manhattan art gallery opening where our hero encounters former classmate Polly Prince (Jennifer Anniston of "Rock Star") serving wine as a waitress. Apart from attending the same middle school, neither Reuben nor Polly shares anything in common. Reuben has a pathological aversion to risk. For example, he won't touch nuts n a party bowl at a bar because he claims only one in seven people wash up after going to the bathroom. Reuben dreams of getting married and owning a three-bedroom home in the suburbs. On the other hand, Polly abhors marriage, shuns commitment, lives impetuously, and sports an elaborate, thong-line tattoo on her lumber. Nevertheless, Reuben cannot get this babe off his brain.
Predictably, when Reuben dates Polly, chaos occurs. Polly picks an 'ethnic' restaurant and its North African cuisine challenges Reuben's gastrointestinal fortitude. Rather than say he cannot stomach such spicy fare, an anxious Reuben endures agony so that he can enjoy the ecstasy of Polly's company. Later, we're told Reuben suffers from irritable bowel syndrome. After dinner at Polly's apartment, Reuben holes up in the toilet. No sooner has he sat down than Polly's blind pet ferret enters to play with him. Afterward, Reuben cannot find anything with which to wipe himself so he grabs what turns out to be a family heirloom. Of course, when he flushes the heirloom, the toilet stops up and overflows.
Overall, Reuben's dilemma is whether to throw caution to the wind and hang out with Polly (who detests the conventions of a status quo lifestyle) or take back a repentant Lisa from St. Barts after her busted fling with Claude. Along the way, Reuben deals with a corporate Australian CEO, Leland Van Lew (Bryan Brown of the "FX" movies), who lives life on the edge but must have insurance. Reuben must decide whether Leland is worth insuring despite his daredevil stunts and this prompts him to ponder whether opposites really attract with regard to Polly.
Writer & director Hamburg (whose indie hit "Safe Men" made a splash at the Sundance Film Festival) wastes too much time on peripheral characters. Granted, Philip Seymour Hoffman is a hoot staging his version of "Jesus Christ, Superstar" at a community theater group where he plays both Jesus and Judas. Nevertheless, the biggest problem with "Polly" is its jokes sorely lack imagination. The joke about the dweeb with diarrhea in the bathroom has been done before and better in "Dumb & Dumber" and "American Pie." "There's Something about Mary" wore out the gag about disaster prone pets. Jennifer Anniston wastes her talents in a week, stereotypical nitwit role, while Ben Stiller doesn't stretch his accident-prone persona as a neurotic yuppie so much as confines it within the grounds of this uninspired comedy. Not even the "Something Wild" type romance between Ben and Jen generates anything new. A gravelly-voiced Alec Baldwin adds to the humor as Reuben's vulgar boss who likes to talk to his employees while in the restroom as well as slap them on the butt. Hamburg's comedy also abandons logic. With a friend like Sandy, Reuben doesn't have to worry about enemies.
At 90 padded out minutes, episodic "Along Came Polly" qualifies as lamely written, formulaic fodder, with fewer than half as many sight gags and jokes as it needed and not enough romantic moments.