“Along Came Polly” isn’t a great film. It’s a pretty conventional and predictable romantic comedy released in 2004, directed by John Hamburg and starring Ben Stiller and Jennifer Aniston. Yet the film has many of the ingredients that make it succeed in the romantic comedy genre, including chemistry between the co-stars and some hilarious scenes that make you laugh out loud.
The story follows Reuben Feffer (Stiller), a somewhat reserved and neurotic risk analyst who marries lovely Lisa (Debra Messing), the woman of his dreams, as the film opens. But on their honeymoon in St. Barts, their marriage falls apart when Reuben catches Lisa cheating on him with her athletic and well-endowed scuba diving instructor. Devastated and heartbroken, Reuben returns to New York City and tries to get his life back on track.
That’s when he meets an old acquaintance, Polly Prince (Aniston), a free-spirited and impulsive woman who shakes up Reuben’s world. Despite their different personalities, they start dating, and Reuben discovers new passions and experiences he had never imagined before. You can pretty much guess the rest of the movie from here.
Both Stiller and Aniston are in their comfort zones here. Neither is asked to do anything new or challenging from an acting point of view, but both effortlessly nail their performances. Stiller is always believable as the awkward nerd, and Aniston has been playing a version of her Rachel character from “Friends” for years. But both are great, and of course it helps that Aniston easily comes across as fun and adorable. Most men will fantasize about taking Jennifer salsa dancing after this film.
The supporting cast helps to carry the film, with Phillip Seymour Hoffman stealing scenes as Rueben’s childhood friend Sandy. The “let it rain” scene with Hoffman in the pick-up basketball game has become iconic. The entire scene is comedy gold, with Rueben being grossed out by the sweaty, hairy dude who decides to take his shirt off during the game.
Alec Baldwin delivers some funny lines as Rueben’s boss Stan, while Debra Messing looks fantastic while giving a solid performance as Lisa.
There are enough laughs in this film to make up for the formulaic story, so enjoy the ride!