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Along Came Polly

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Along Came Polly

Starring: Ben Stiller, Jennifer Aniston
Director: John Hamburg
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 90 Minutes
Release Date: January 2004
Genres: Comedy, Romance

*Also starring: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Debra Messing, Christine Barger, Alec Baldwin, Hank Azaria, James DuMont, Nathan Dean, Bob Dishy

Review by Steve Rhodes
3 stars out of 4

There's one chance in forty-six thousand of falling into a subway drain. It's an actuarial fact. In ALONG CAME POLLY -- written and directed by John Hamburg, the writer of the side-splitting ZOOLANDER and MEET THE PARENTS -- Reuben Feffer (Ben Stiller) knows this tidbit of statistical knowledge and many others. He's a risk assessment specialist at a big insurance company, and he can and does calculate the odds of just about everything. After hearing his explanation of the hazards of a bowl of nuts at a bar, I'm quite sure that you'll never be tempted to munch on this free food again.

Being able to predict probabilities, however, doesn't prevent him from suffering the downside of life's events. Reuben's day-old marriage to Lisa Kramer (Debra Messing) hits the rocks before anyone could see it coming. Once alone again, the ever cautious Reuben finds himself strangely attracted to his exact opposite, Polly Prince (Jennifer Aniston), a free-spirit and a flake who is one of the world's most clueless waitresses. Aniston, in a wonderfully likeable and intriguing performance, crafts a completely original character. If her character has a cinematic ancestor, it would be that of Annie Hall in Woody Allen's classic screwball comedy.

ALONG CAME POLLY is no classic-to-be, not even close, but it is a perfect picture for the dog days of January when the new pickings are slim. A fun film, it provides more than the requisite number of good laughs and has several memorable and endearing characters. In addition to the acting by the two leads, other nice pieces of work are turned in by Philip Seymour Hoffman as the once famous child star of CROCODILE TEARS, Hank Azaria as a French nudist with a bad accent to die for, Alec Baldwin as Reuben's touch-happy slime ball of a boss, and Bryan Brown as a foolishly death defying CEO who needs an insurance recommendation from Reuben.

The movie loves physical comedy, as in the scene when Reuben confronts the lack of toilet paper at a messy moment, but the script knows just when to back off. One of the story's best on-going gags involves Polly's pet ferret. Since this lovable weasel is blind, it has a hilarious propensity to run into things at inopportune times.

The story is filled with comedic moments that you haven't seen before, including a pillow liberation episode and one that coins the term "sharting" -- don't ask, I won't tell you. When the laughs are long gone, the characters will stay with you, especially Polly. She's a real one of a kind whom you'll be glad you met.

ALONG CAME POLLY runs a breezy 1:30. The film is rated PG-13 for "sexual content, language, crude humor and some drug references" and would be acceptable for kids around 12 and up.

My son Jeffrey, age 14, gave it ***, saying that it was a funny, sweet comedy. He found Stiller's character especially interesting.

Copyright 2004 Steve Rhodes

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