ALONG CAME POLLY
Reuben Feffer (Ben Stiller) is a successful risk assessor for a leading insurance firm; Polly Prince (Jennifer Aniston) is a rolling stone who plays her life like a roulette wheel. When Reuben's bride Lisa (Debra Messing) jilts him on their honeymoon for a nudist scuba-diving instructor (Hank Azaria), Reuben decides to ask Polly on a date. After all, they knew each other in seventh grade, and their meeting at an art gallery opening, where she is working as a waitress, seems to be prompting fate. But how much risk can a man take when playing the game of love?
Review by Louise Keller:
A wry romantic comedy with endearing characters, Along Came Polly goes a long way to show that even the best laid plans are destined to be changed. Opposites attract, they say, making this into a match made high in the heavens. He calculates the risks and plays it safe; she lives life on the edge. He has a plan; she revels in having a plan to have no plan. 'When you least expect it, something great may come along.' And for Reuben, it's Polly who unexpectedly crashes into his organised life and makes mayhem.
From comic screenwriter (and director) John Hamburg (Meet the Parents, Zoolander, Safe Men) comes this inventively funny, formulaic Hollywood comedy with larger-than-life characters and a splendid cast that makes the most of every single moment. Ben Stiller's intense Reuben is the ultimate conservative party-pooper, who avoids spicy food because it might upset his irritable bowel syndrome, while Jennifer Aniston's free-spirited Polly is the epitome of indecision, being unable to decide whether or not she wants to go on a date at one sitting. Reuben's initiation on the spicy-food circuit, dirty dancing and risk taking brings plenty of laughs, while tattooed, liberated Polly is introduced to the concept of planning, and even starts writing children's books (albeit about maimed children). Of course, their differences are what make Hamburg's script funny, as his characters are extremes and the ensuing situations outrageous. The humour comes from observations of everyday life coupled with wit and a dash of slapstick; the result is an uplifting, light and good-natured film that simply entertains.
When we first meet Reuben, he is about to marry the perfect girl (Debra Messing, lovely), at the perfect wedding, with a perfect future assured. But it takes no time at all for heavenly perfection to be devastatingly defunct, as the verry-French, well-built naked scuba diver Claude (an amusing turn by the hilarious Hank Azaria) whisks Reuben's bride away and is caught flapping in a compromising situation wearing flippers. Reuben's anal nature is counter-balanced by his 'wing-man' Sandy (Philip Seymour Hoffman, outlandish) whose role as Judas in the community production of Jesus Christ Superstar (but he also wants to sing Jesus' songs too!) is inspired. As for Polly, working as a waitress, she doesn't seem to notice that there are two different colours for wine, as she tops up the glasses for guests at the opening of an art gallery. Between the toilet humour, sight gags, one-liners and odd-ball situations, watch for Bryan Brown as the 91% uninsurable billionaire adventurer Leland Van Lew who has a zest for life, parachuting from tall buildings in a single bound.
Along Came Polly achieves exactly what it sets out to achieve. It's an undemanding, well-made fun outing with a cast that delivers.
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ALONG CAME POLLY (M)
CAST: Ben Stiller, Jennifer Aniston, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Debra Messing
PRODUCER: : Danny DeVito, Michael Shamberg, Stacey Sher, Hank Azaria, Alec Baldwin, Bryan Brown
DIRECTOR: John Hamburg
SCRIPT: John Hamburg
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Seamus McGarvey
EDITOR: William Kerr
MUSIC: Theodore Shapiro
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Andrew Laws
RUNNING TIME: 95 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: UIP
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: January 22, 2004