AMERICAN SPLENDOR
 

Directed by John Hamburg. USA. 2004.


Talking Pictures alias talkingpix.co.uk
 
 


 
 

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Along Came Polly is an underwhelming romantic comedy about an obsessively cautious man who falls for the most unlikely girl in New York and has his world turned upside down in the process. I had the bonus of going to the premier of this film where the two stars, Ben Stiller and Jennifer Aniston greeted the audience and said how much they hoped weíd like their film but sadly that wasnít enough for me (and Iím a sucker for celebrity endorsements).

The film has a good cast, all of whom have proved their mettle in comic roles before (Stiller, Aniston, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Debra Messing) but this script just didnít give them any opportunity to flex their comic muscles. Reuben Feffer (Stiller) is a sensible, straight-laced Risk Assessor at an insurance company who has a working knowledge of the danger lurking in any given situation. He can calculate the precise amount of bacteria living in a bowl of bar nuts and this hyper awareness is brought to bear on every aspect of the way he lives his life. His theories are shattered however when his carefully chosen, seemingly perfect new bride cheats on him on their honeymoon.

Then he randomly runs into an old high school acquaintance the free spirited, drifter Polly Prince and despite the fact that she seems completely unsuitable he decides to ask her out. They go on a series of disastrous dates where the slapstick and Ďgross outí humour goes into overdrive. Reuben finds himself in a variety of what are for him, extremely challenging situations including eating with his hands in an Ďethnicí restaurant, which exacerbates his chronic case of Irritable Bowel Syndrome and results in a not so hilarious scene involving a lack of toilet paper, a hand towel embroidered by Pollyís late Grandmother and a toilet that wonít flush. The writer attempts to rework this worn out gag by throwing a blind ferret wearing a knitted jumper into the mix and if youíre chuckling to yourself right now then maybe you will enjoy this film, but frankly it just didnít cut it for me.

Anyway the upshot of it all is that Reuben realises that thereís more to life than just going with the cautious option all the time and whilst this is a worthy conclusion to draw, he really does seem to have such a horrible time with Polly (and she doesnít seem to be having a whale of a time with her either) that it isnít a convincing decision at all.

Philip Seymour Hoffman is totally wasted in the role of Reubenís deluded best friend Sandy Lyle and Ben Stiller who exhibits his gift for the ridiculous in Zoolander leaves a lot to be desired in the straight man role. Jennifer Aniston proved she could play more than Rachel Green in The Good Girl but unfortunately she has nothing to work with here.

Itís not an unbearable watch but if you can think of something better to do then you may as well.

Nicola Dewe
 
 
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