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January 20, 2004 > Along Came Polly

Along Came Polly

by Christopher Cobb

How far will a man go to get a girl to fall in love? Obviously this was writer/director John Hamburg's starting point in "Along Came Polly." And while the film doesn't expound too far beyond that, it does not fail to make you laugh more than a few times.

The film follows the misadventures of ultra-safe risk-analyst Reuben Feffer (Ben Stiller) after he finds his wife sleeping with someone else on their honeymoon.

Down on his luck, Reuben encounters old childhood friend Polly Prince (Jennifer Aniston), who has since become a perfect opposite of Reuben - she salsa dances, eats spicy food, and owns a ferret. For Reuben it's love at first sight, and he spends the rest of the film proving it; enduring a world full of visual gags and rapid-fire fart jokes. For what it is, director Hamburg (who also penned other Stiller hits "Meet the Parents" and "Zoolander") has this humor down to a science.

While based on next to nothing, the chemistry between Stiller and Aniston is buyable. And because romance takes a backseat to humor, it's easier to allow for the paper-thin plot.

However, the major joy of "Polly" is not its leading characters, but the supporting cast. Alec Baldwin, who plays Stiller's potty-mouthed employer, is perfectly crass in every scene he's in. Philip Seymour Hoffman, known mostly for his dramatic roles, proves his comedic range playing Sandy Lyle, former child star and Reuben's best friend.

The film suffers mostly in the middle, where choppy editing sacrifices continuity for comedic tempo. Some brief cameos, like that of Cheryl Hines (HBO's "Curb Your Enthusiasm") as Polly's boss, appear pointless for someone so talented and known. However, this is an indication that the DVD will be full of material that probably should have been in the film.

Director Hamburg clearly took the "less is more" approach, but the result is a light and enjoyable film running under 90 minutes that doesn't allow audiences to tire of the premise.

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