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"Along Came Polly" - Movie Review

  • Annabelle Robertson Entertainment Critic
  • 2004 16 Jan
"Along Came Polly" - Movie Review

Release Date:  January 16, 2004

Rating:  PG-13 (for sexual content, language, crude humor and some drug references)

Genre:  Comedy/Romance

Screenwriter/Director:  John Hamburg

Actors:  Ben Stiller, Jennifer Aniston, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Debra Messing, Alec Baldwin, Hank Azaria, Bryan Brown

Review:  I’m confused. Is the director of "Along Came Polly" four years old – or does he think we are? Because that’s the only age group I know of (outside of Hollywood) which thinks potty humor is downright hilarious.

Reuben Feffer (Ben Stiller) is a top risk analyst for an insurance firm. Reuben lives his life by the numbers, and he’s found the perfect mate – real estate agent Lisa Kramer (Debra Messing). The only problem is, when Lisa hooks up with a naked French scuba instructor (Hank Azaria, with an overdone accent) on their honeymoon, Ben’s whole world falls apart.

Back home, he meets Polly Prince (Jennifer Aniston) and is convinced she’s the new “perfect” mate. Polly is sloppy, spontaneous and outgoing – Ben’s complete opposite. She likes spicy food; he has Irritable Bowel Syndrome (a significant detail). She likes the Salsa; he’s afraid to cross the street. But that doesn’t stop Ben and Polly from trying to make it work. Because they’re like, destined, you know, to be together. Whatever!


 • = Mild  •• = Average 

••• = Heavy  •••• = Extreme

Adult Themes: 


Drugs/Alcohol Content:




 Sexual Content/Nudity: 




Stiller shifted into this brand of comedy with "There's Something About Mary," which has similar humor to "Along Came Polly," only less of it. Which is too bad, because Stiller’s previous film, "Duplex," was cute. Nothing has been quite as good as his first directorial effort, "Reality Bites," which was truly funny – and true – as it showed us the angst and plight of Generation X. "Along Came Polly," on the other hand, doesn’t show us anything but the inside of a bathroom.
Phillip Seymour Hoffman ("Cold Mountain", "The Talented Mr. Ripley") offers a standout performance as Sandy, an actor who hasn’t done any real acting since his teenage hit. As Reuben’s best friend, Sandy is catty and crass with comical diva-like tendencies. Similarly, Aussie Bryan Brown ("The Thorn Birds") makes his first film appearance in ten years as Leland Van Lew, the reckless CEO Reuben needs to insure – before Van Lew kills himself with one of his crazy stunts. The characterization of the Australian male as wild and fearless was very funny and together, Hoffman and Brown save the film from unmitigated disaster. Otherwise, "Along Came Polly" is a wash.

It’s full of obscenities and profanities (Polly says “OMG!” almost every other sentence) and Polly’s children’s book shows a child with an amputated, bleeding arm. Reuben desperately prays to God – who doesn’t answer – about the toilet problem. Lisa’s scuba instructor walks around nude, then they hop into bed together. Reuben spends the night with Polly after their second date. Reuben talks about not being a virgin and Sandy suggests that Reuben use sadomasochism as a sexual technique. He also suggests that Reuben allude to incest in bed, because “girls love it.” Oh yes, women love being molested by their fathers. It’s hysterical

The scene where Polly discovers Reuben inputting “data” about her into his laptop computer was taken directly from Friends, and Polly’s ferret harks back to "There's Something About Mary." But, even when screenwriter/director John Hamburg isn’t stealing from TV and other films, he forgoes the opportunity to deepen his characters. Polly has a serious fear of commitment, which comes from the fact that her father kept a second family on the side. Nevertheless, it’s Reuben who needs to change – and change, he does. At the end of the film, he not only walks around nude, but reassures Polly that he doesn’t want to marry her. He just wants to “take her to dinner.” It’s clear that, in this filmmaker’s mind, marriage only causes pain. Gee, he must be part of Generation X.

“It’s not about the past, or even the future. It’s about the ride, for C-sake,” says one character, which pretty much sums up the message of the film. Live now, for tomorrow we die. Don’t try and patch up your broken marriage, don’t ever forgive, and if you find someone as cute as Jennifer Aniston, then try to make it work – even if it makes you miserable.

If you enjoy watching people with diarrhea and gas, you’ll love "Along Came Polly" – providing you haven’t seen the other movies Hamburg robs from. The scene where Reuben runs out of toilet paper in Polly’s bathroom, using her grandmother’s linen cloth to wipe himself and thus causing the toilet to overflow, is identical to one in "Dumb & Dumber." The urinal scene, where Ben talks with his boss, Stan Indursky (Alec Baldwin, bizarrely cast as a fat, obnoxious Jewish loudmouth who can’t control a gas problem), harks back to "Austin Powers," which wasn’t the origin of that gag to begin with.

"Along Came Polly" is all about "pee-pee" and "doo-doo" (as Sandy calls it), which I left behind years ago. Apparently, however, not everyone did, because the film got a lot of laughs. Maybe that’s why Hollywood keeps cranking this stuff out.  But I say pass.