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
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