Along Came Polly
Ben Stiller. Again. Is anyone getting sick of that lizard-mouthed Jew yet? I know I am. Have been for some time -- ever since I paid good money in Kentucky to see Zoolander... and stormed out after 20 minutes, screaming at the hicks in the Louisville multiplex, "You're LAUGHING?! You FOOLS! No wonder! No fucking wonder!" before bursting out the door (unfortunately movie theater doors don't slam shut, but rather swing back and forth to a doorjamb-less equilibrium so you can't get too melodramatic if you're a grumpy, solo movie-heckler like me), skulking down the corridor out of eyesight of the multiplex's teen-minority staff, and slipping into some Michael Douglas movie for another bout of someone-else's-ego-saturation hell...
I shoulda known. Shoulda known better than to allow the pirate copy of Along Came Polly to infect my on-loan DVD player, courtesy of the eXile's esteemed general counsel, Morris U. Snideman, Esq.
Stiller first crossed my radar screen in the early Gen-X atrocity, Reality Bites. That was the first movie I ever had the nerve to throw out of my VCR. It was a defining moment for me -- before Reality Bites, I held to the ridiculous convention that you should watch a movie all the way through to the end. That you should be embarrassed to pop a film out, or storm out of a movie theater half way through, ranting like a victim of Turrett's Syndrome, doing your best to ruin that magical brain-glue which binds the moviegoer to movie. Reality Bites taught me otherwise -- because I knew those horrible, ironic, we're-so-different-because-we're-self-aware scum slithering across Reality Bites' screen. Those were the assholes I went to college with! Escaped from! Now they were being filmed "just being who they are," as if their little melodramas mattered?! No, no, no -- I couldn't bear it. I had to draw a line in the sand. Boil that brain-glue! Bust up that relationship between flick and viewer for good, then slip out the exit!
Folks, if I can teach my readers one thing, it would be to give you the courage to walk out of movies that not only suck or half-suck, but even those movies which leave you mildly dissatisfied. Walk out! It'll add years to your life, trust me. Not only that, but movies will respect you more when you pop them into your VCR...They'll know you're the type who doesn't take shit from them.
I swore off Stiller forever after the Reality Bites trauma, but then sort of forgot about him until several years later when I saw Zero Effect, a wonderful pro-tweak film in which Stiller plays a cranky (cranky because he doesn't blow crank like his boss) young Jewish lawyer who chooses his shallow, grotesque valleygirlfriend over the genius speedfreak PI boss played by Bill Pullman. I liked watching that Stiller, the petulant, ambitious, shallow, not-untalented Stiller, because I imagine he's much closer to that asshole character than the "cute and real because he's dorky and anti-cool" lie that he prefers to portray.
Stiller's FOX show from the early 90s was as quasi-hip and fake-intelligent as Reality Bites. But one must admit that he had a good run for a few years -- directing Cable Guy, one of the great nerd movies of all time, and playing the role of a neurotic Jewish dork who just happens to attract babes ranging from the voluptuous (Patricia Arquette) to the gazelleous (Tea Leoni) in Flirting With Disaster. I started getting nervous when he did Perfect Midnight, just about the fakest smack-chic movie ever made. Ben Stiller as a smack-head?! Tchya, right. I'd believe just about anyone playing that role but Ben Stiller -- David Schwemmer, Vanilla Ice, Mikhail Fradkov, all would be far more plausible as smack addicts. But Ben Stiller? You just know that the little prick has his own Karl Rove carefully planning out everything from the "indy phase" of his career to his nutrition tables.