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 Along Came Polly
 Critic's Rating
 Date Posted
   13th March, 2004
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Cast: Ben Stiller, Jennifer Aniston, Debra Messing
Director: John Hamburg

Ben Stiller, the man who has mastered the art of being funny in embarrassing situations, stars as Reuben Feffer, a risk assessment analyst in the embarrassingly unfunny 'Along came Polly'. When we first meet Reuben, he is about to tie the knot with Lisa (Debra Messing), the woman he feels is right for him. While on their honeymoon they bump into French scuba diving instructor Claude (a ridiculous Hank Azaria), who Lisa has an affair with, leaving Reuben brokenhearted and distraught.

With the help of his uncouth best mate Sandy (Philip Seymour Hoffman), a former child star, Reuben stumbles upon Polly Prince (Jennifer Aniston) , an ex-school chum, at a party, and even though they hit it off in the fabricated manner that their script lines want them to, incompatibility sets in once their diverse natures come to the surface. You see, Reuben is a man of statistical estimates, numbers and measurable outcomes while Polly is a free-spirited woman, not bound by the same determinable chains (Ho, Ho!).

In setting up the feeble premise, director-writer John Hamburg, whose repertoire includes working with Stiller on the hilarious 'Meet the parents' and the fizzled 'Zoolander', forgets one important fact; Stiller works best when made to perform against an antagonist (Matt Dillon in 'There's something about Mary', Owen Wilson in numerous others). Here his antics play out like simple minded buffooneries of himself. He is incessantly put into one embarrassing situation after another; there's the inappropriate wedding speech, the odd dinner date, the incongruous basketball game, the snappy salsa dance, all of which are moderately amusing, but nothing more I'm afraid.

The sassy Jennifer Aniston, eternally pigeonholed as Rachel Green from Friends, hardly breaks a sweat playing Polly, who as insignificant as she is, does little to merit the title of the film. The missing charisma between the two leads, whenever together, made me wonder what made them stick for as long as they did. What exactly Polly finds to like in the risk averse Reuben remains for viewers to scratch their heads over. The supporting cast, including Alec Baldwin as Reuben's tough sounding boss, gets some bigger laughs, primarily through scatological humour and pratfalls.

'Along came Polly' does manage to score positive points in one department, the thankfully short running time, barely bearable at 90 minutes. On final assessment the numbers don't look too positive for this flick. The movie's overall assessment is something Stiller's character from the movie would probably not be too happy to learn about either. - Faizan Rashid

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