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Along Came Polly (2004)

For the most cautious man on Earth, life is about to get interesting

Rating: 5/10

Running Time: 90 minutes

UK Certificate: 12A

Ben Stiller has long since honed his awkward-but-lovable nice guy routine in the likes of There’s Something About Mary, ‘Meet The Parents’ and ‘Keeping The Faith’. Here, in the lifeless ‘Along Came Polly’, he’s at it again. He’s Reuben Feffer, an anally retentive insurance risk analyst whose marriage to estate agent Lisa (Debra Messing) gets off to the worst possible start when he catches her romping with a perma-naked scuba instructor (Hank Azaria) on the first day of their Honeymoon. So, in a predictable change of direction, he begins dating his own binary opposite in the shape of bygone school chum Polly Prince (Jennifer Aniston. She’s scared of commitment, loves to take risks (including eating those urine-encrusted nuts you sometimes find in bowls on top of bars) and hates well-made beds. Unfortunately, there’s nothing remotely “risky” about ‘Along Came Polly’. It’s a rom-com by numbers and, to that end, does contain a semi-reasonable number of laughs – but it’s also completely bereft of either spark or originality. What’s more, at least two of its main set-pieces are suspiciously familiar from elsewhere (a blocked toilet gag used virtually identically in ‘Dumb & Dumber’, and Stiller’s use of a laptop to compare the attributes of ladyfriends, only for the file to be discovered by Aniston – didn’t she already do that in ‘Friends’?). Thankfully, at least the performances are good (well, decent at least), especially from Philip Seymour Hoffman. In a role that 15 years ago would surely have gone to John Candy, he plays Stiller’s best mate and provider of bizarre love advice. He’s got a subplot of his own as a failed child star who refuses to accept the passing of his own career, and his scenes are invariably the most entertaining. As this year’s annual river of forgettable rom-coms go, this one’s a step-up from the disappointing Something’s Gotta Give – but it’s still a long way down from Stiller’s best work in There’s Something About Mary. Let’s hope ‘Starsky & Hutch’ delivers the goods, and all will be forgiven.

It's Got: A dare-devil Aussie (Bryan Brown), a gay salsa dancer (Jsu Garcia) and a blind ferret (can’t find the actor’s name in the credits).

It Needs: Some ideas of its own!


“Along Came Pointless”, more like.