“Along Came Polly” is much better than it sounds, because it sounds awfully generic. An overly cautious, buttoned-down, germphobic guy meets a carefree, spontaneous, flighty girl! Hilarity ensues!
But the guy is Ben Stiller and the girl is Jennifer Aniston, and they know what they’re doing. Stiller excels at playing hapless guys for whom everything goes wrong — he’s very much in “Meet the Parents” territory here — and Aniston’s sweet, friendly demeanor is loved by 20 million “Friends” watchers a week (of which I am not one, but that’s my own fault, not hers).
Stiller plays Reuben Feffer, a risk analyst for an insurance agency whose wife Lisa (Debra Messing) runs off with a nude Frenchman (Hank Azaria, unrecognizable) while on their honeymoon in the Caribbean. Reuben heads home to New York and, still reeling, bumps into Polly Prince (Aniston), an old schoolmate he hasn’t seen since junior high. They hit it off, but her flakiness doesn’t jibe with his system of carefully evaluating every potential risk before making a decision.
There’s a curious lack of conflict in the film, until Lisa shows up again, but everyone knows Reuben isn’t getting back together with HER. He and Polly get together fairly quickly; the question is whether they’ll last, but even that issue is decidedly non-cloudy.
As such, the movie has a breezy, negligible feeling to it. It earns quite a few solid laughs — including from Alec Baldwin as Reuben’s crass Jewish boss and Philip Seymour Hoffman, doing an impression of Jack Black, as Reuben’s useless best friend — and will probably be a breakout hit. It’s not worthy of tremendous success, but it warrants a look, if only to enjoy Hank Azaria’s outrageous French accent.
B- (1 hr., 30 min.; )