Why Did I Watch It? Recommended by fatiekitz.
Reuben Feffer is a risk assessor who leads a careful life. He has just married his long-term sweetheart, bought his dream house, and is on his honeymoon in the tropics: life is good. Then he catches his wife in bed with a scuba instructor, and his circumspect existence gets turned on its head. On the rebound he hooks up with Polly Prince, a childhood friend who has grown into a commitment phobic misfit. Can this mismatched pair make it work?
‘Along Came Polly’ is an interesting assemblage of filmic parts. The set up is classic rom-com; he’s a bit OCD, she’s a scatterbrained mess, there are easy laughs to be had as their personality differences conflict. Added to this is some grossout humour straight from a Farrelly Brothers movie; Ben Stiller getting the toilet clogged is like a joke from ‘There’s Something About Mary’. And lands like a gag from a ten year old film: tired, lame, desperately unfunny. There are a few scenes like this and they feel cobbled on; at odds with the tone of the rest, like the studio gave a note insisting on more dick and fart jokes.
But the film gets past this stuff quickly, and what it evolves into is a surprisingly mature look at a modern relationship. In the second half, the story eschews easy answers and forces the characters to consider themselves. Who are they? What do they want? I loved that Reuben almost immediately reveals to Polly that he is married; in a different film he would have kept this secret, revealed it near the end, this would’ve ruptured their relationship, before allowing them to make up in the final scene. Here he just tells her, she is sympathetic, and they talk about what a difficult situation it is. There are a number of scenes like this, radical in their simplicity, reflecting real life experience rather than movie fantasy. Jennifer Aniston, a terrific exponent of the light touch required for a rom-com, is excellent, and makes a lot of a character that is otherwise thinly sketched.
The film also features the great Phillip Seymour Hoffman, in a rare straight up comedic role, playing Reuben’s idiotic best friend Sandy. A former child star, famed for a role in a ‘Breakfast Club’ esque teen comedy, now he has been reduced to community theatre in Brooklyn. His first great moment is when he announces, ad hoc, that he will be playing both Jesus AND Judas in the theatre’s production of ‘Jesus Christ: Superstar’ (which leads to a brawl). And his second great moment is when he fills in for Reuben at an important meeting, and spouts crazed jargon in a rousing speech to win over sceptical board members. Watching him play basketball is a riot as well. A very funny performance, and a reminder that PSH could do ANYTHING.
A fun movie with a little bit below the surface.