January 22, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 62  

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ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

Polly is a crowd pleaser
Stiller a hit, Aniston boring as usual


Along Came Polly
Starring: Ben Stiller, Jennifer Aniston, Debra Messing, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Alec Baldwin
Directed by: John Hamburg

By Ashley Audrain
Gazette Staff

Gazette file photo
YIKES! BETTER NOT TELL BRAD ABOUT THIS. Jennifer Aniston gets freaky with Ben Stiller in the romantic comedy Along Came Polly.

Sometimes the best way to enjoy a movie is to set your expectations very low. Romantic comedies are perfect for this.

Hence, those who cynically anticipated Along Came Polly to be the typical crappy love story mixed with a few overdone laughs will be pleasantly surprised.

Stiller plays Reuben Feffer, an uptight risk analyst, who can only make decisions in his life based on the calculated risk assessed by his RiskMaster 3000. While on his honeymoon, Reuben’s wife (Messing) leaves him for a nudist scuba instructor living on the edge (played by The Simpsons’ Hank Azaria). He returns to New York City to start over, when he meets a childhood friend Polly Prince (Aniston), who is free-spirited and adventurous.

She teaches him how to live life on the wild side — well, how to eat spicy foods and salsa dance — and he helps her overcome a fear of commitment and responsibility.

It sounds like a better-casted big screen version of Dharma and Greg, and it is — Stiller is as funny in this film as he is in Meet in the Parents and There’s Something About Mary. While it’s hard to sympathize with an idiot, you can’t help feel bad for him. It’s actually uncomfortable watching him struggle through amateur sex scenes and a horrifying diarrhea incident á la American Pie (a comedy staple, but admit it — it’s funny every time).

Women in these sorts of films are never very funny, and Aniston is no exception. While she is likable on screen, she plays her character much like she plays Rachel on Friends — nothing too impressive about that. Either way, she gets away with it because she’s Jennifer Aniston.

The supporting characters are notable, and maybe purposely funnier than Aniston. Hoffman plays Reuben’s best friend Sandy Lyle, a hefty has-been childhood actor who wears long johns in public and sweats profusely. He coins terms like “manthlete” and “sharting” (use your imagination), yet his repulsiveness is somehow enjoyable.

Conversely, a blind ferret (yes, the animal) plays Aniston’s sidekick, and if you aren’t one for cheesy animal characters trying to be amusing, you’ll take great pleasure in the ferret’s disability.

Despite the comedy, this film works because of its amusing yet simple premise. While the scenes are outrageous enough to make you shift uncomfortably in your seat, Stiller gives a memorable performance in this pleasing film — as long as you don’t expect too much.

 

 

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