Along Came Seymour.
In ALONG CAME POLLY, Ben Stiller is yet another dweeby nebbish, Jennifer Aniston, yet another luminous man-toy, carnal love muscle. How do writers squeeze any further substance from these same drop-dead-boring characters?
Stiller is Reuben Feffer, depressed after leaving his slut wife (Debra Messing), finding rebound romance in the arms of Polly (Aniston). Adversity ensues blah blah and they live happily etc.
But along came Philip Seymour Hoffman; though regarded as a sober Actor’s Actor, injecting a scathing hilarity to this rotted roadkill of a film. Playing the Hero’s Best Friend, Sandy, Hoffman uses his disheveled pariah character like a wrecking ball on this milky-vanilla story, outshining the stars (Aniston and Stiller), the veterans (Alec Baldwin as an insurance company head, Bryan Brown as a dicey insurance prospect) and the relative newcomer (the insipid, underweight and overpaid spinner, Messing, of WILL AND GRACE “fame”).
Hank Azaria must also warrant mention, as a buff scuba instructor with a silver-tongued “Movie French” accent (responsible for breaking up Reuben’s marriage) – but this is unequivocally Hoffman’s movie.
Ironically, Hoffman’s Sandy is a struggling actor, living on laurels twenty years old (when everyone knew him as “The Kid from CROCODILE TEARS”), taking on the roles of both Jesus and Judas in a community theater production of JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR, and playing basketball with an ineptness that would send most wiggas to the bench for life – if it weren’t for his delusional “white chocolate” fury. His dialogue is gold, not least because of its delivery: “Raindance!” “I sharted!” “His art sucks, but he used to sell me really good pot”; and he even Saves The Day in a subplot which sees him take on his most challenging acting role – that of stand-in insurance salesman for Reuben while Reuben conforms to Romantic Comedy protocol by Running Through Streets To Stop His Girl Leaving Town.
Hoffman gets 8 stars. The movie gets only one – Philip Seymour Hoffman.