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ALONG CAME POLLY

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In writer/director John Hamburg's version of the romantic comedy perennial where the uptight guy falls for the free-spirited gal, our nervous hero is Reuben Feffer (Ben Stiller), who actually frets for a living: He's a risk analyst for an insurance firm. After being brutally dumped on his honeymoon (new bride goes too deep with a scuba instructor), Reuben hooks up with an old classmate, Polly (Jennifer Aniston), a carefree flake. The course of their courtship is predictable, and you get just what you'd expect from Stiller and Aniston, who have capably trod these paths before. There's a few gut-busters, but I must caution that most of big laughs occur in various restrooms. The fringe players perform admirably, but there's also nothing new in Alec Baldwin's crass boss, Bryan Brown's "no-worries" Aussie and Hank Azria's hilariously tongue-twisted foreign dude (though I'm sure I've never seen this much of a very buff Azaria before). Philip Seymour Hoffman gets the primo sidekick role, and from start to finish, he's the funniest thing this film has to offer -- though in some respects his performance is also just the comic flipside of the greasy, bloated losers he frequently inhabits. Still, when Hoffman barges his heaving self into a pick-up basketball game, it's the most exuberantly bad sports performance captured on celluloid since Bill Murray picked up a golf club in Caddyshack. Two and a half.

 

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