Review Date: January 14, 2004
Director: John Hamburg
Writer: John Hamburg
Producers: Danny DeVito, Stacey Sher, Michael Shamberg
Philip Seymour Hoffman
A professional risk-analyst and all-around anal-retentive neurotic dude marries a babe and jets off to St-Barts for the honeymoon. While at the resort, the poor schmuck catches his bride nailing the local scuba instructor and returns home, a broken man. A few days later, he runs into an acquaintance from high school and decides to get back on the dating trail. But get this...she's a free-spirit goof who doesn't like to plan or organize anything. You see? They're complete opposites! Romance, guffaws and a blind ferret ensue!
This film is the very definition of a solid "date movie". A film to which you can bring your better half, buy some overpriced popcorn or overcheesed nachos, slip a tinge of rum into your Coke and enjoy the laughs, the basic structure of a couple meeting and falling in "movie love" and the amusing characters spruced over 90 minutes of your life. Nobody is out to save the world with this film, but if busting a gut is one of your intentions on this very evening, ALONG CAME POLLY delivers in belly-punching laughs (especially during its first half hour), as well as chuckles, cute moments and even a touch of romance. The film doesn't overstep its bounds though and that's one of the things that you might hold against it. There isn't much in this picture that is unexpected, fresh or surprising, so if you're looking for something that's gonna turn into a "classic date movie" a la WHEN HARRY MET SALLY or over-the-top stuff like THERE'S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY, this film isn't it. Both Stiller and Aniston are great in their respectively quirky roles though, but the chemistry and supposed "love" developed between them isn't, so if you're planning on seeing this film with a greater emphasis on the "romantic" part of "romantic comedy", you might be a little disappointed. This movie focuses more on its laughs and thanks to Stiller's continued comedic genius (yeah, you heard me), as well as a boatload of imaginative and well-placed secondary characters, the film doesn't linger in many quiet moments.
In fact, I think many of the best romantic comedies are strengthened by impressive supporting casts and this film has that in spades. Consider the buffed-up, big-cocked Hank Azaria playing the ultimate French lover or Philip Seymour Hoffman grandstanding as one of the funniest loser characters that he's ever played. Great showing, dude...you've got a knack for both drama and comedy...I'm impressed! But my favorite was the man of the hour, the actor who took his supporting role in THE COOLER and turned into something special and the Baldwin brother who has consistently churned out memorable roles throughout his career, Alec Baldwin as the foul-mouthed, macho, gruff-voiced, philandering boss whose one bathroom scene with Stiller was the highlight of the entire film. "I knew she was a slut the minute I laid eyes on her." Beautiful. It's to be said that Aniston is also coming into her own as an actress, and even though she did play a similar character to many of her previous roles (this one is just a little "flakier"), I'm getting to like seeing her cute, budding face on the big screen and it's not only because she's married to beefcake, pretty-boy Brad Pitt. I hope she stretches in future roles though. All that said, I return to my initial point about this film's success as a "date film" in which many laughs are to be had, a number of memorable sequences to be remembered (Stiller's "number two" scene is a blast) and plenty of entertaining characters to keep things interesting all the way through. Not a classic, but a solid fluff-piece for this time of year.
(c) 2017 Berge Garabedian