Directed by: John Hamberg
Written by:John Hamberg
Starring: Ben Stiller, Jennifer Aniston, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Debra Messing, Alec Baldwin, Hank Azaria
Released: January 22, 2004
Grade: C+

The following self-assessment exam represents 100% of your grade in Film 101.  Please read the case study below before answering the questions which follow.

Case Study

Reuben Feffer (Stiller) is an expert risk assessor at a leading insurance company.  He is very conservative, somewhat neurotic and never takes a risk himself without fully calculating what he’s up against.  Reuben has just married Lisa Kramer (Messing), a lovely lady who we know nothing about (a deliberate ploy so that we don’t feel sorry for her I’m sure).  On their honeymoon, Reuben and Lisa are approached by a nudist named Claude (Azaria) who asks them to come scuba diving on his boat.  Reuben pulls out at the last minute with cold feet.  When he returns to the boat a few hours later, he finds Lisa and Claude making passionate love inside the cabin.

Reuben heads back home to New York.  His best friend, Sandy (Hoffman), encourages Reuben to come with him to a swanky party.  There he is approached by a waitress named Polly Prince (Aniston) who remembers him from middle school.  Polly details her immediate past – she’s never been married, hates commitment, loves spontaneity and has been in eight consecutive doomed relationships.  On paper, she is anything but a perfect match for Reuben.

Part A (5 marks)

If you were a cliché ridden Hollywood screenwriter only interested in creating feel-good schmaltz garbage in the interests of financial profit, what plot developments would follow and how would this film end?

Answer Guide – Part A (award 1 mark for each of the following points)

  • Reuben will go out on a date with Polly.  It will go horribly but in being insanely funny,  neither will seem to mind.

  • The start seeing each other more and will be on the verge of falling in love.

  • Lisa will then return unexpectedly out of the blue looking for forgiveness from Reuben.

  • Polly will then think she has no chance with Reuben and will stop returning his calls.

  • His father will then give some advice and from utter confusion, Reuben will understand in an instant with crystal clarity who he loves – Polly.

  • Reuben will then goes after Polly only to find out from a close friend that she’s leaving town on a plane in just two hours.

  • He will go racing after her, they will look deeply into each other’s eyes, express their true feelings and live happily ever after.

  • All the above will be inter-laced with tired, lame, predictable jokes (the best of which appear in the trailer).

  • A bonus mark is to be award to anyone who points out the irony of a film about telling us to take risks when the filmmakers themselves don’t take a single risk.

  • A further bonus mark to anyone mentioning the unoriginality of writer/director John Hamberg or questioning his sanity.