Prayer Focus
Movie Review

ALONG CAME POLLY

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sexual content, language, crude humor and some drug references

Reviewed by: Chris Monroe
STAFF WRITER

Offensive
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Teens and Adults
Genre:
Comedy
Length:
1 hr. 30 min.
Year of Release:
2004
USA Release:
______
Featuring: Ben Stiller, Jennifer Aniston, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Alec Baldwin, Debra Messing
Director: John Hamburg
Producer: Jane Bartelme and Daniel S. Levine and Producer: Danny DeVito
Distributor: Universal Pictures
Copyright, Universal Pictures
Copyright, Universal Pictures
Copyright, Universal Pictures
Copyright, Universal Pictures
Copyright, Universal Pictures
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Universal Pictures
Learn how to make your love the best it can be. Discover biblical answers to questions about sex, marriage, sexual addictions, and more.

Irony rests in the fact that while “Along Came Polly” proudly purports the idea that the “safe” choice isn’t really the best choice, the run of the mill making of this film does nothing but choose what is “safe” with jokes, characters, and storylines that are all very commonplace. Clearly, the medium holds none of the message and works against itself in providing any effectiveness.

This movie presents Ben Stiller (“Meet the Parents”, “Royal Tenenbaums”) as Reuben Feffer, a risk assessment analyst for an insurance company. He is a guy that “plans his life in order to avoid danger,” and, as in many other comedic Stiller roles, takes life way too seriously. Stiller plays this comedy well, but it feels like he is simply being reused as a character he has been successful at playing in the past.

After his marriage to Lisa Kramer (Debra Messing of “Will and Grace”) to kick off this flick, Reuben walks in on his brand new wife having sex with a scuba instructor (Hank Azaria) on their honeymoon. It was difficult to believe Reuben would let his wife go off alone with “Claude”—who first introduces himself to them completely naked—but because of the conventionality of the script we are forced to buy it.

Furthermore, only two weeks after this devastating incident, Reuben is already pursuing a new romantic relationship with Polly Prince (Jennifer Aniston), which builds to some kind of climactic love speech we’ve already seen in the trailer. Polly, of course, is supposed to be the complete opposite of risk-assessment-Reuben as the free-spirited, bohemian girl who likes spicy “ethnic foods” and salsa dancing. How hackneyed. The whole story comes across very glib.

Besides the brief sex scene with Lisa and Claude in the beginning, there is another one with Reuben and Polly where we hear Reuben’s internal monologue about his performance in bed. It’s distasteful. There is no nudity in this scene, but during the scenes at the salsa club, there are some moments of provocative dancing. (The nudity that does exist in the film is in the two incidents where we see the backsides of Claude and Rueben.)

The foul language is minor with Reuben’s boss, Stan Indursky (Alec Baldwin), using most of the profanities, including taking the Lord’s name in vain. Indursky is a no-nonsense, obnoxious guy who is nonchalant about his relationship with his mistress. One positive point here is that he is not presented at all as a likeable character, but in the end his actions result in being inconsequential.

One attempt at humor involves Polly showing Reuben a children’s book she has been writing entitled “Boy With a Nub For an Arm” complete with pictures. Reuben underplays how he thinks it might be a little disturbing for children, and when we see one of the actual pictures, it’s obvious they would be. The joke did not seem even remotely realistic.

Another supposed funny situation is Reuben reacting to the spicy “ethnic foods” he eats and finding himself without toilet paper while in Polly’s bathroom. Haven’t we seen this before? More rehashed jokes.

The strength of this film is supposed to lie in the clash between Reuben and Polly’s different personalities, but seems to force its meaning on us with unconvincing arguments. Reuben explains to Polly that he doesn’t want to try base jumping (jumping from the top of a building, for example, with a parachute). Polly asks him if he’s ever done it, to which Reuben says no. Polly pathetically retorts, “Then how do you know what it’s like?” as if she making some poignant remark. Hardly.

This movie is too aware of itself. It is too aware that it is trying to be funny. It is too aware that it is trying to be meaningful. It is too aware that it is trying to be dramatic. But at the same time it is totally unaware that it is none of these things.

The best part of the entire film is the work done by Philip Seymour Hoffman who plays a washed up child actor pursuing his acting career playing Judas in a community theater production of “Jesus Christ Superstar”. He plays his character, Sandy, thoroughly with humor and consistency, portraying a slob that we love to loathe. The funniest moment is when he refers to himself as “white chocolate” as he throws up yet another brick during a two-on-two basketball game.

If you choose to practice the philosophy this movie advocates, then avoid the “safe” choice by not going to see it. It would behoove anyone to take a risk and instead go to an art museum or read a good book.

(The whole star this film did earn is solely dedicated to the work done by Philip Seymour Hoffman)

Viewer Comments
Negative—This movie had “some” funny parts. However, what has happened to the mentality of America with these sick, vulgar, bathroom scenes, jokes, definitely not for Christians—couples “hopping in the sack” out of wedlock, just because it “feels good.” We, as Christians, ALL need to BOYCOTT these “vulgar,” tasteless movies. I enjoy GOOD comedy.
My Ratings: [Average/2]
—Suzanna Johnston, age 35
Negative—This movie was a waste of money, and not worth any effort to see it. I wouldn’t call it offensive, just stupid and a rewrite of many other films that I have seen. I was extremely disappointed, being a big Aniston fan. I believe she could have found many, many better scripts to act out rather than that one.
My Ratings: [Average/1]
—Nicole, age 41
Negative—I would not recommend that any person who professes to be a “Christian” waste their money on this film. Much of the humor was crude, disgusting, and embarrassing. I decided to take my wife to see the movie on a “date,” and then regretted my decision about a third of the way into it. Ben Stiller is a terrific and funny actor, but the sexual innuendos and crude bathroom humor was just too much to overlook.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive/1½]
—Mark, age 45
Negative—This is a nasty film. It flies in the face of all moral principles contained in the Word of God. We left before half-time. I should have look it up on your Web site before we went to see it, but we thought it would be a “harmles” and funny film. WRONG!!!
My Ratings: [Extremely Offensive/2]
—Marilyn
Negative—…We love Ben Stiller and Hoffman, but this movie is just a complete joke. Although there were some funny parts (we are into fart jokes:)), this movie is just plain bad. We can handle tasteless humor, but we cannot handle bad movie making. Ben Stiller, what were you thinking?
My Ratings: [Average/1]
—Erickson, age 25
Neutral—I agree with the author of this review that the only truly outstanding performance given in this film is from Philip Seymour Hoffman. In light of this, I believe he (unintentionally) left out one important part of the film. There actually is a bright spot.

In the latter part of the film, Philip Seymour Hoffman is demanding to play the lead role in “Jesus Christ Superstar”. Throughout the movie, he has been recognized as a washed up actor who starred in a silly B-movie at least a decade ago. Many people are impressed with his starring role in that film but when asked by Hoffman if they’d like an autograph, people refuse. With this rejection, Hoffman’s character exaggerates his current acting role as the lead when he is actually cast as an insignificant character in the film. Hoffman’s character is constantly criticizing the other members of the cast as being unprofessional and as is seen in the final scene where he takes over for the person who truly has the lead, he realizes that he has failed miserably. Reuben’s father in the film, who apparently is an extremely soft-spoken man, opens up in a diatribe about how Hoffman’s character needs to realize that he had something great in life at one time and that it is truly time to move on to bigger and better things rather than stay in the past. Everyone is surprised, none more than Hoffman’s character, that Reuben’s father has spoken such a sincere soliloquy.

Hoffman’s character is invigorated by this soliloquy and his life is forever changed. In the final dramatic scene of the movie, Hoffman’s character, which never-before has been reliable—despite his feeble attempts to say he is—is called upon by Reuben to convince the insurance company to insure an extreme-sports adventurous Aussie who has little regard for his own life. One more time, he is recognized as the person from that silly decade-old film, but he makes a very well-spoken, albeit ridiculous, speech that convinces the insurance company to insure the Aussie.

It is at this point, that you realize, that he has purposely changed his life and is not living in the past anymore. He is looking forward to the future. It is similar to the Grace that God gives us as we are not supposed to be living in the past, rather living for the future—focusing our energies on how we can serve the Lord; not focusing on what we have done in the past—the activities for which we’ve been forgiven. Focusing on Jesus, we can move forward in the Grace of our Father and be an effective member of Christ’s community and help win others to the Lord.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive/2]
—Randy N. Townley, age 29
Positive—I am not used to Ben Stiller films, but this one seemed alright. I think the basis of this movie was to show that not everything has to be perfect, and when it’s not you have to learn to see it through another’s eyes. It wasn’t really God-based, but it still had some moral substance to it.
My Ratings: [Better than Average/2]
—Angela, age 34
Positive—…We really enjoyed it! We laughed a lot. It was very humorous and we had a good time. I thought it was great, in no way did I think it was a negative. If you can laugh at Jim Carrey in his slapstick comedy then you can laugh at Ben Stiller and all his “serious” comedy! We loved it 2 thumbs way up!
My Ratings: [Better than Average/5]
—Amy, age 35
Negative—I like Ben Stiller and Jennifer Anniston as actors. However, I was expecting, other than Ben Stiller’s comedic acting and the previews I’ve seen, something a lot better. I admit that I laughed at some parts and it was,overall a funny movie. However, I didn’t like the result of the movie when Stiller and Anniston do not get married. The viewer gets the firm idea that they do not support marriage, although they may be considering it. The movie only encourages pre-marital sex, and I would rather the producers left that vague, instead of making it clear that having sex before marrying is alright.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive/3½]
—GK, age 18
Neutral—The Good: Although this film as a whole was not as good as previous Ben Stiller movies like “Meet the Parents,” it was still hysterically funny, and even my husband laughed to the point of tears. The characters were quirky but believable—I found myself really getting involved in their personalities. Even Ben Stiller’s wild insurance client has a well-developed character. For a comedy, there is a lot going on in this story.

The Bad: Definitely not a movie for kids! Profanity and nudity and even two sex scenes make this an adult-only film.

The Ugly: The main theme is lies and adultery, and although it was funny, immorality is glorified.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive/3½]
—Heather Couch, age 33
Negative—By the end of the movie, Ben Stiller’s character learns it’s best to leave his wife, downplay committed relationships, eat dirty nuts off the sidewalk, have casual sex, and sunbathe nude at the beach. It is clear these characters are confused, self absorbed, and don’t know God. This depressing movie is an example of progressive depravity and glorifying a sinful way of life.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive/2]
—Andrew Z, age 22
Negative—I hated this movie! Even though it may have had a good moral, it just seemed so dirty and offensive and judgmental!
My Ratings: [Extremely Offensive/1]
—Lo, age 44

Comments from young people
Negative—As a huge fan of Ben Stiller let me start out by saying I love Zoolander, Meet The Parents, The Ben Stiller Show, and the like. That being said, this movie was NOT his best. In fact, it’s his worst in my opinion. The overall theme of the movie was basically that marriage screws things up. Interesting, because Ben Stiller is married… Anyway, just the overall quality of the film wasn’t great. I must admit, there were a few parts that had me laugh pretty hard, but it wasn’t worth the 7 dollars for a ticket. In fact, I wouldn’t pay anything to see it again. Jennifer Aniston is basically a “girl ready for a good time.”…This I can understand (in Hollywood) except that they made it seem like it was a virtue! In conclusion, please, do not see this movie…
My Ratings: [Very Offensive/1½]
—Andy Gillies, age 17
Negative—This film was terrible. I watched it with my ten year old sister a couple of weeks ago and she still can’t believe that she saw a couple of guys’ bare “bottoms”! It didn’t even have a good storyline! I kept looking at the clock waiting for it to get over and hoping there wasn’t anything else in it!! Even if you don’t believe in Jesus don’t watch this movie!! It’s worse than Pearl Harbor and Titanic. At least those had good storylines!
My Ratings: [Extremely Offensive/1]
—Brittany, age 16
Positive—This movie was one of the best I had seen all year. It was expressed very well by Jennifer G. and was exploding with thrilling comedy, a little over the edge and classy. Jennifer played the role of a freaked out 30 year old teenager very well and fits into a category of, “the best!”
My Ratings: [Excellent!/5]
—Victoria, age 15
Positive—…This was a funny movie… laughed at it until it was done playing… a halfway decent plot line. I was impressed with the jokes and slapstick… It was rightfully rated PG-13 for some language and some sexual material. No nudity except for rear…
My Ratings: [Very Offensive/5]
—Michael Trittin, age 14