Still wading through those rom-coms, this week we take a look at Aniston’s pairing with ‘everyman’ Ben Stiller.
FILM: Along Came Polly
DIRECTOR: John Hamburg
CHARACTER NAME AND PROFESSION: Polly Prince, waitress and aspiring illustrator
PLOT SUMMARY: A man name Reuben Feffer (Ben Stiller) who is a risk-assessment analyst (non-spoiler – his job matches exactly his personality) gets married, but his wife Lisa (Debra Messing) sleeps with a scuba instructor on the first day of their honeymoon. Reuben is sad, he goes back to work, everyone knows what happened to him. His best friend Sandy (Philip Seymour Hoffman) invites him to an art show to cheer him up and he meets Polly (Aniston!) who went to the same middle-school as him. He’s surprised to find that Polly, a former Valedictorian and leader of the model UN, is now a tattooed waitress (shocker!), who owns a pet ferret, as though he lives in a world where people always fulfil childhood expectations. When Polly finds out what happened to Reuben, she feels sorry for him and they begin dating, despite being initially repulsed by him and having nothing in common.
CHARACTER TRAITS: Intelligent, funny, spontaneous, open, honest, kind, self-aware.
NOTES ON PERFORMANCE: Aniston should be commended for simply acting alongside Stiller here, even though they have zero chemistry, she still convinces as Polly, with some of her most authentic scenes being those opposite Missi Pyle as her friend/colleague Roxanne. You can tell Aniston is trying here, and it’s not her fault that the writer/director has created such an unconvincing narrative.
NOTES ON FILM: The lack of chemistry between Stiller and Aniston totally ruins the film, as does the lengths the films goes to prove they’re sooooo different, which then works against credibility when they end up together at the end. Not even Aniston could convince me that Polly really wants to be with Reuben. Again, a film in which the female character is actually more interesting than the male protagonist and I’d prefer to watch a film from her perspective. Imagine – she’s minding her own business and this trainwreck of a guy lands in her life and tries to convince her they’re somehow compatible – that’d be hilarious because she’d just go off to Tanzania in the end and have a blast.
CONCLUSION: I felt like Rodolfo the ferret while watching this film – banging my head against a wall.