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Stiller charms in typical romantic comedy

Mark Bemenderfer | Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Recycling formulas is a proven trend in Hollywood. After all, if it’s not broken, don’t fix it. That’s why we have been bombarded with countless sequels as of late, with originality being few and far between. This recycling is seen once again in the movie Along Came Polly, starring Jennifer Aniston and Ben Stiller. Ben Stiller, in a less than surprising twist, plays a neurotic risk assessment manager named Reuben Feffer. The movie begins with him getting married. On his honeymoon, he discovers his wife in bed with the scuba instructor. Deciding that his life with her hasn’t quite met his expectations, he returns home. There he runs into an old high school flame, Polly Prince (Aniston). Aniston plays a somewhat free-spirited woman, a supposedly perfect opposite of Stiller’s rigid risk avoidant behavior. Together, they form an awkward but fun relationship involving salsa dancing and toilet humor. The exact Hollywood pitch made by the film’s writers probably sounded a bit like the above paragraphs when the movie executives were approving their latest money-making scheme for a hit film. Borrowing a bit from many other already successful movies, Along Came Polly takes the safe route and adds nothing new to its the romantic comedy genre in Hollywood. Recent movies, such as Meet the Parents, There’s Something About Mary, and even a dash of Bruce Almighty make less than subtle contributions to the movie. Perhaps that is being a little harsh to the movie. It does have some genuinely entertaining moments to it. After all, Stiller keeps repeating the same character in his movies for a reason. He usually plays a somewhat awkward character. He tries hard enough to fit in to be humorous and endearing himself without crossing over to being annoying. Aniston’s character is a little less convincing. Perhaps because she hasn’t had other similar movies to practice her role in, she’s not quite as convincing as Stiller. She is set up to be a perfect contrast to Stiller’s character, but ends up coming up short. She likes to eat with her hands, and salsa dances with a gay person. That’s about the extent of her risk-taking nature. In fact, once a risk does appear, she runs from it.As for the DVD release of this film, the video and sound are both up to standard quality like the movie itself. The video looks decent, with no graininess or distortion. It sounds nice and clear, especially during Stiller’s bathroom breaks.The special features included on the disc are decent. The director, John Hamburg, contributes a pretty decent audio commentary for the film, even if he sounds like a machine throughout it. There’s also a making of the documentary, and some deleted scenes. The most unique thing to be found is the feature titled “Rodolfo goes to Hollywood.” It stars Polly’s little ferret, and matches the humor found in the movie.In the end, the movie ends up being pretty enjoyable. Not great, but as far as chick flicks go, this one has a bit more personality than most.