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Along came predictability

Jacqueline Pimentel-Gannon | Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Ben Stiller and Jennifer Aniston star in Along Came Polly, a comedy from director John Hamburg. This movie follows the path of the typical romantic comedy to arrive at the standard conclusion – the hero and heroine overcome various obstacles to end up together. In Along Came Polly, the obstacles are comical, especially for those who are fond of bathroom humor – literally as well as figuratively. Unfortunately, most all of the funniest parts of the film are revealed in the previews.Stiller plays Reuben Feffer, a risk assessment analyst who uses his technical skills to manage and minimize the risk in his own life. His perfect life is right on track as he marries his real estate agent Lisa Kramer (Debra Messing of television’s Will and Grace). Everything falls apart, however, on the first day of their honeymoon as Feffer goes to pick up his new wife from her scuba diving lesson only to find her in a compromising position with the French scuba instructor Claude (Hank Azaria).Feffer returns home to New York to face friends, coworkers and complete strangers who all know what has happened thanks to his interfering mother. The audience can’t help but feel sorry for Feffer, even though they laugh as he deals with the humiliation.In an attempt to meet new people, Feffer attends a party where he meets Polly Prince (Aniston), a classmate from middle school. Phillip Seymour Hoffman, as Feffer’s best friend Sandy, provides the most memorable line of the movie when explaining why he and Feffer have to leave the party immediately. So if for no other reason, watch this movie to truly appreciate the meaning of “shart.”On his first date with Polly, Feffer runs into problems almost as ridiculous as those that confront Stiller’s character in Meet the Parents. Ironically, Polly is about the only person who hasn’t yet heard about Feffer’s ordeal – though this is rectified soon enough Feffer’s oh-so-helpful mother.Despite the rough start, a romance soon blossoms between Feffer and Polly until Feffer’s wife returns. Feffer then has to make the usual choice between the two women and makes the predictable decision – surprise, surprise. Considering several of the actors in Along Came Polly are crossovers from television, the acting is not bad at all. In fact the actors probably pulled the film off as well as they could have given the tired plot with which they had to work. The chemistry between Aniston and Stiller is mediocre at best, but their comedic skill keeps the movie from dragging.The story, which includes the amusing parallel story line of Feffer trying to get an important client insured, is simple and easy to follow even when half-asleep. In the end, watching Along Came Polly is not a bad way to spend 90 minutes if one wants a few laughs and a vacation for the mind – but it might be better to wait until video and put the $5.75 to better use now.