Along Came Polly (2004)
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Audio Commentary-John Hamburg (Director)
Alternative Version-Original Opening, With Optional Director's Commentary
Featurette-Rodolfo Goes Hollywood
Deleted Scenes-With Optional Director's Commentary
|Year Of Production||2004|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL (56:52)||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||John Hamburg|
Universal Pictures Home Video
Philip Seymour Hoffman
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English dts 5.1 (768Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.85:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
English for the Hearing Impaired
English Audio Commentary
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Along Came Polly sees Ben Stiller at his usual game of playing lovable losers, this time in the role of Reuben Feffer. The movie opens at his wedding to Lisa Kramer (an excellent Debra Messing), and moves quickly from there to the honeymoon on the Caribbean island of St. Barts (or at least Hawaii doubling for St. Barts). At this point it seems to be a sweet romantic comedy, but things quickly take a turn for the worse when Reuben returns to pick Lisa up from a scuba lesson and finds her in bed with the instructor. Oops. Returning a shattered man to his New York life, Reuben prepares to hit the dating scene again with some "help" from his friend Sandy Lyle (Philip Seymour Hoffman making a rare comedy appearance), and it is at a party that Sandy drags him along to that he meets (or rather, is spotted by) old school friend Polly Prince (Jennifer Aniston). Polly is the antithesis of everything about Reuben, yet he is strangely attracted to her. In the process of courting Polly, Reuben will be the most uncomfortable, physically and emotionally, that he has ever been, yet he will persevere despite all odds to try to win the heart of Polly, and of course, just as things seem to be going well, Lisa arrives back on the scene. Oh, and there is some sub-plot about life insurance and an Australian thrill-seeker played by Bryan Brown - not that you would notice.
With a plot that is wafer thin, the film revolves mostly on the chemistry of its two leads. Jennifer Aniston and Ben Stiller work reasonably well together, although Aniston maintains an air of "interested disinterest" for the most part, and while it fits the flighty character of Polly, it does not help strengthen the relationship. On an individual basis, Stiller is at his likeably monkey-man best again, carrying the audience along with his hopes and dreams. Aniston mostly puts her famous Rachel persona in the closet for this outing and does a reasonable job of making the audience fall for her, although the Friends character does seem to pop up from time to time (and when she does, it is quite disconcerting). Jennifer Aniston is no Cameron Diaz, but she works well enough. Philip Seymour Hoffman is deadly serious as Reuben's obnoxious and arrogant washed-up actor friend, an approach that tends to work less well than it should, while Debra Messing shows up Jennifer Aniston in her limited role, demonstrating more than enough screen presence to prove that she deserves her own turn at a lead role. The real stand-out performance of the film however is Hank Azaria. The man best known for being the voice of Moe, Apu, and many, many others in The Simpsons, and for a small role as dog walker Nat on ex-wife Helen Hunt's long-running TV show Mad About You, he is virtually unrecognisable here as Claude, the French nudist scuba instructor who steals Reuben's new wife. In a role that could have simply been mean, he makes the character sympathetic, at the same time as being incredibly funny (his delivery of the line "look to me in my eyeball" is a true classic).
The comedy in this film is quite clearly divided into two types - toilet and non-toilet. Writer/director John Hamburg obviously believes in the adage that a film cannot have too many fart jokes. Or too many toilet scenes. Or too many graphic descriptions of bad toilet experiences. Respectfully, there is only one thing to say to him - there can, and this film proves it. By the time Reuben is flooding Polly's bathroom after attempting to flush her towel at around the forty minute mark, the number of toilet jokes has become quite ridiculous. Fortunately, from this point on the film settles down and we get more traditional humour. It would be more forgivable if the toilet humour was at least funny, but as most of it is painfully un-funny (the worst being Sandy's explanation of what it means to "shart" - think about it), it makes the start of the film drag.
It would be easy to say that this is a low-rent clone of an earlier film, such are the similarities between this and There's Something About Mary. Reuben Feffer is just an older Ted Stroehmann who has taken longer to find his Mary, the films both combine low-brow humour with truly clever comedy, and they both star Ben Stiller. All that is not entirely fair however, as Along Came Polly is enjoyable in its own right, even for those who are more than familiar with the Farrelly brothers' break-out effort, although it is missing one crucial ingredient that Mary had - the Matt Dillon character. In the Farrelly comedy, he was the crazy to Stiller's normal, and with lines like "I like to work with retards", took pressure off Stiller to be constantly funny. In this film, Philip Seymour Hoffman is deadly serious, while Alec Baldwin, Bryan Brown, and Hank Azaria are barely in the film, leaving Ben Stiller to carry both the emotion and humour for the majority of the time, and the dual roles start to take their toll.
In the end, Along Came Polly is a decently fun film. It has too much toilet humour to be described as truly "romantic", and too much romance to be "gross out", but it is an amusing enough way to spend an hour and a half and is guaranteed to raise a chuckle. Definitely worth a rent, while only the die-hard Stiller or Aniston fans will really need to consider adding it to their collections.
Presented at the original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1, this transfer is 16x9 enhanced.
The image is not all that sharp, with a resultant reduction in the level of fine detail visible. It does not really reach the point of softness, having more of a smooth appearance (which in itself is not entirely a bad thing), but it is a look that does not entirely suit the film. Not helping the matter is the constant low level of background grain. The grain is well controlled and never becomes an overwhelming problem, but it gives the film a slightly "dirty" look that once again does not suit its tone. This could have been an intentional choice, but if so, it is a poor one for what is supposed to be a relatively light-hearted romantic comedy. On the plus side, shadow detail is very good, with the darker scenes of the movie containing plenty of depth. There is no low-level noise present.
Colours are a little lacking, but this is due to the shooting locations having fairly simple colour palettes (for the most parts blacks and whites, or browns) rather than an actual problem with the colours themselves. On the rare occasions where there are vibrant colours on offer, they are well rendered and fairly seem to pop off the screen, especially in comparison to the remainder of the transfer.
There are no compression artefacts in this film, and at only 86 minutes (and on a dual-layered disc at that), that is a good thing. The same cannot be said for film artefacts, as the entire film contains tiny flecks. Most are so small that they are not worth worrying about, apart from causing a minor nuisance and showing the print to not be all that clean, but there are a few larger blobs, such as at 12:00, or 71:35, that do draw attention to themselves. This is extremely disappointing, as film artefacts are the one thing a new release movie (and especially a relatively high-profile one) should be able to avoid completely. Aliasing is also a problem, and while not present on every straight line in the film, it occurs on a frequent enough basis to be a nuisance, with the oven grille between 39:57 and 40:27, and the racquet-ball glasses between 52:50 and 53:00 being the most noticeable.
The subtitles are rather inaccurate and tend to abbreviate words more often then they do not. This reduces the comedy of some of the situations, which is disappointing.
This is an RSDL formatted disc with the layer change taking place at 56:52 between Chapters 14 and 15, and it is an extremely good example of how to do a layer change the right way - I could not pick the change with the naked eye on three viewings of the film, and even once you know where it is, it is virtually impossible to spot. Located in the middle of a scene, it is placed on a static shot that has no sound. The shot would normally hold still for a short time, so the added time of the layer change is not really noticed. Great work.
There are three audio tracks present on this disc. The first two are the original English dialogue, presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 (at 384 kbps) and DTS 5.1 (at half-bitrate). The third track is the audio commentary track presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo (at 192 kbps). The inclusion of a DTS track here is somewhat puzzling, as the audio transfer is hardly one that demands high-fidelity.
Dialogue is clear and easy to understand at all times. There are no problems throughout the transfer.
Audio sync is correct for the most part, but a few lines do slip out from time to time in both the DTS and Dolby Digital soundtracks (and at the same times too), such as at 29:58 and 69:03.
The score is credited to Theodore Shapiro, and is relatively standard fare, combining more modern sounds with a standard orchestral-type score to provide a mostly up-beat backing for the movie. In addition to the score there are a number of contemporary songs included throughout the movie that sometimes work incredibly well, and sometimes just sound completely out of place.
Surround activity is virtually non-existent, with the surround really only raising more than a whimper during the storm sequence on the yacht. While disappointing, this is relatively normal for this type of film, and as such is not as large a drawback as it could otherwise have been.
Like the surrounds, the subwoofer tends to have little to do. It backs up the score and the other songs from time to time, but for the most part sits dormant, waiting for the next action film to be inserted into the DVD player.
The comparison between the Dolby Digital and DTS tracks leaves no clear winner, as neither track goes anywhere close to pushing the limits of either sound format, leaving the DTS track to be more of a gimmick than anything else.
|Surround Channel Use|
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The video quality is rather average, with a dirty print full of film artefacts, and a soft transfer that still manages to suffer from aliasing in a major way.
The audio quality is about standard for this type of film, presenting almost no surround action, but otherwise doing a solid job.
The extras are relatively small in number, but are mostly quite interesting, so make a nice little package.
|DVD||Pioneer DV-555K, using Component output|
|Display||Loewe Xelos 5381ZW. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Amplification||Onkyo TX-DS787, THX Select|
|Speakers||Rochester Audio Animato Series (2xSAF-02, SAC-02, 3xSAB-01) + 12" Sub (150WRMS)|