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Along came Polly and washed the movie out

Arthur J Pais | January 17, 2004 08:00 IST

Ben Still in Along Came PollyNobody should be surprised if this tame, predictable and overworked comedy with scatological jokes becomes a medium-sized hit. After all, recent hits such as Cheaper By The Dozen were not terribly inspired comedies, either.

The fairly engaging performances by the lead players and Hank Azaria rescue Along Came Polly, which runs out of gas in no time, to a certain extent.

John Hamburg, who also wrote this comedy, was responsible for creating two interesting parts for Ben Stiller in Meet The Parents and Zoolander. The former was a huge hit, and the latter, a medium-sized success. Both were better than this film.

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While Hamburg, who directed this medium budget film after working on a small and hardly seen film called Safe Men, coaxes likeable work out of his leads, he has not been able to do exploit the talents of Philip Seymour Hoffman and Bryan Brown who are among top character actors. 

Reuben Feffer (Stiller), a New Yorker with compulsive and quirky habits, seems married to his profession of a risk assessor for an insurance company. He would like to think that he knows how to reduce and handle life's risks. For instance, when he decides to marry, he goes for a seemingly affluent businesswoman Lisa (Debra Messing) after elaborate consultation with his computer for compatibility. You can understand how shocked and horrified he is to find her with a French scuba instructor (Hank Azaria) on their honeymoon.

A dejected and lonely Reuben returns to New York where he goes to an art exhibition at the coaxing of Sandy Lyle (Hoffman). There he bumps into school friend Polly (Jennifer Aniston) who is now a waitress. Unlike him, she loves to take risks.

Jennifer Aniston in Along Came PollySandy has a bigger role to play now: he is involved in the planning of Reuben and Polly's dates but he cannot help misadventures that threaten his plans. There are times he forgets Reuben has a sensitive stomach. Of course, the director exploits this predictable situation to add some crude humour.

Contrived these developments are, they nevertheless inspire Stiller to offer some genuinely amusing moments. Watch the scene in which he tries to deal with his gastro-intestinal problems or talks to Polly about germs. Much of what he does here could remind one of his previous work but there is still plenty of charm to it. 

Adding to the film's attraction is Aniston who looks natural as a person that is far removed from Reuben's world. Even then, the popular television star needs a better-written part and more inspired direction to make her a big screen star. As the macho French scuba diving instructor Azaria is terrific, though his accent sounds a bit overworked.

A still from Along Came PollyBut we expected more from Hoffman whose character makes desperate efforts to resurrect his acting career. Not only is his role poorly written, it also suffers because Hoffman is not able to make it livelier. Alec Baldwin, who plays Reuben's unlikable boss, is another loser. There are times he overacts and there are moments you feel he is trying hard to make something out of a badly etched role.

Though Bryan Brown plays a fairly interesting character -- an entrepreneur who upsets the insurance firm because of his high risk adventures -- there is not much in his performance to appreciate.  

Cast: Ben Stiller, Jennifer Aniston, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Debra Messing, Alec Baldwin, Bryan Brown, Hank Azaria
Writer-Director: John Hamburg
Running time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Rating: PG-13
Distributor: Universal

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Number of User Comments: 1

Sub: i hate jennifer

i hate jennifer aniston...also i didnt saw any comments i gave mine ....i havnt watched the

Posted by ruby


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