Monday, February 03, 2014


I've actually seen a few movies recently and hope to knock out posts on those in the coming days. Tonight, however, I'd like to talk about "Along Came Polly."

One of the lesser entries in Philip Seymour Hoffman's filmography, this 2004 comedy actually has come up in a couple of appreciations of the great actor who died Sunday. One of those was by my former newsroom colleague and midday b-baller Rick Press in Fort Worth. Like him, I hold "Along Came Polly" as an example of Hoffman's genius equal to "Capote" and "The Master," a couple of films where he was a dominating lead vs. a supporting player.

Let's think about this. By the time "Along Came Polly" came around, Hoffman had risen from the kooky/creepy roles in "Boogie Nights" and "Happiness" to leading roles in "Flawless" and "Owning Mahowny," and cracked the non-comedy barrier with parts in "Red Dragon," "25th Hour" and "Cold Mountain." He would soon go on to "Capote" and "Doubt." I guess what I'm saying is what did Hoffman have to gain from goofing with Ben Stiller at that point?

Maybe I'm over-thinking it, and in the end I don't care. Because I LOVED Philip Seymour Hoffman in "Along Came Polly." That movie is better than it should be solely because of him. (And maybe a little because of Hank Azaria.) And that was Hoffman: bringing it every time and giving us another unique performance. Maybe someone else could make me shout "Raindrops!" every. single. time. I play basketball, but I doubt it.

I could go on. I've more than once ... or 10 times ... quoted Scotty J. berating himself in his car after the failed pass at Dirk Diggler. Brandt's phone calls in "The Big Lebowski" always make me laugh. The counsel of Lester Bangs -- played by an flu-stricken Hoffman who shot his scenes in only four days -- had me nodding during "Almost Famous." And then there are the great parts that I forget for a while, such as his boorish playboy in "The Talented Mr. Ripley" and the phone-sex line supervisor in "Punch-Drunk Love." Hell, I've seen not only "The Master" and "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" in the past few months, but also the lesser-known "A Late Quartet" and "The Savages" in the past year or so.

Bottom line: If Philip Seymour Hoffman was in a movie -- as a lead, a cameo or something in between -- I took notice, and expected to keep doing so for years to come. Now that's done, and it sucks.


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