Ben Stiller continues to make an excellent living playing largely the same character continuously; the everyguy who is certainly neurotic, yet manages to overcome his hang-ups to get the girl. Stiller's rare departures from the usual form have resulted in his finest work, such as brilliantly playing a dimwitted fashion model in "Zoolander".
"Along Came Polly" has Stiller and everyone else coasting along; while there are certainly some funny moments, the picture is uneven, predictable and leaves little impression. Reuben Feffer (Stiller) is a risk assessor for a major New York insurance company - one of the top workers for boss Stan Indursky (Alec Baldwin). Reuben decides to marry Lisa Kramer (Debra Messing), but the wedding doesn't last terribly long - moments into the honeymoon, Lisa runs off with a diving instructor (Hank Azaria, doing a hilarious accent).
After things cool down, he ends up meeting junior high classmate Polly Prince (Jennifer Aniston) and there's an attraction, despite both being entirely opposite of each other. He's grounded and evaluates every activity for any possible risk; she's free-spirited and against commitment. He has an irritable stomach, while she enjoys spicy food.
Strangely, some of the funnier parts of the movie revolve around the outskirts. Philip Seymour Hoffman is wonderfully amusing as Reuben's friend Sandy, a washed-up former actor. Baldwin also gets a few laughs as Reuben's boss. Azaria delivers another great accent (among many in his career), but really doesn't have more than a few minutes on-screen. Stiller is likable, if bland, while he doesn't exactly share great chemistry with Aniston (who's good). The problem between the two isn't the whole "opposites attract" issue, it's that the picture never made me believe their attraction beyond the fact the script required it.
Again, the film isn't without a few moments. There's a few good gags scattered about, while the supporting performances bring some much-needed life to the party. On the other hand, there's little story, the central romance doesn't really work and the film's bathroom humor is tired. Overall though, this is a pretty predictable, average affair.
VIDEO: "Along Came Polly" is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen by Universal. Sharpness and detail are largely solid, with consistent definition and clarity. Although not a flashy movie visually, "Polly" at least consistently seemed to try to use interesting neighborhoods (such as some in NYC) in its exterior shots.
The transfer's only real issue was the presence of some light compression artifacts and a couple of instacnes of shimmering. As one would expect from a recent film, there wasn't anything in the way of print flaws - no specks, debris or other issues. The film's naturalistic color palette was nicely rendered, appearing accurate and not smeared.
SOUND: "Along Came Polly" is presented by Universal in Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1. The film's soundtrack is essentially a comedy mix, with little in the way of surround use. The rear speakers do pop in for a few sound effects and slight ambience, but they're otherwise silent. The score is presented with minimal spread across the front speakers, while dynamic range is - as expected - not very noteworthy. French and Spanish Dolby 5.1 options are also included.
EXTRAS: The DVD's main supplement is an audio commentary with writer/director John Hamburg. Hamburg provides a decent, rather subdued track, chatting about working with the actors, working on the characters, changes in the film and shooting on locations. Overall, it's a fairly decent commentary, despite some noticable patches of silence. Hamburg also provides commentary for the alternate opening to the film and deleted scenes, both found in the special features section of the DVD.
Also included on the DVD is a "making of" featurette, as well as outtakes, the film's trailer, a featurette on the ferret featured in the flick.
Final Thoughts: I laughed a few times, but otherwise, "Along Came Polly" was largely unremarkable. Philip Seymour Hoffman and Aniston are the highlights. Universal's DVD edition provides fine video quality, average audio and a few good supplements. Rent it.