“I thought Polly was the ferret!” cried out my friend in disappointment as this extremely slight romantic comedy unfolded. Ben Stiller is a funny physical comedian, but at this point in his career, he needed to vary his routine – the string of highly mannered neurotics had grown tired. Jennifer Aniston is characteristically bland in just a supporting role. In a classic romantic comedy, her character would have matched or balanced Stiller. Writer/director John Hamburg makes a halfhearted attempt at that here, but doesn’t give her the screen time or development needed; as a result, her flightiness, a weak counter to Stiller’s neuroticism, is nothing more than a quirk, along the lines of her devotion to a pet ferret, which the actress doesn’t even hold properly.
Behold the dangling.
Only Phillip Seymour Hoffman as disgraced, egomaniacal former child star Sandy West gets any truly deserved laughs, and he got them from me repeatedly. Easily the funniest parts of the movie involved his participation in a community theater production of Jesus Christ Superstar. I ended up wishing we could see THAT musical in its entirety rather than the uninspired romantic comedy that surrounded it.