Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

A Comedy of Terrors on Ben Stiller's Set

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

A Comedy of Terrors on Ben Stiller's Set

Article excerpt

The best comedy is based on reality, says John Hamburg, director of the latest Ben Stiller vehicle, "Along Came Polly." "But we just take it a bit further than what happens to most people in normal everyday life," he adds.

As if to underline the point, his star and co-writer, Stiller, points out that one of the cast members bit him on the lip during filming. And, no, the incident didn't occur during an on-screen smooch with costar Jennifer Aniston, who plays the role of Polly. The nibbler in question was Polly's pet, a frisky ferret.

"It was really weird," says Stiller, who plays an upright risk analyst who falls for the free-spirited Polly. "It did this crazy turn thing and literally attached itself to my chin - and then it didn't let go," he says, grabbing his mouth to illustrate the point. "It was this surreal thing, where like, OK, the ferret's on my chin."

At a press event for any other film, the conversation no doubt would've moved on to other things. But this being a Hamburg/Stiller reunion (previously, they wrote two of Stiller's biggest hits, "Meet the Parents" and "Zoolander"), the ferret routine rolls along into a whole new realm of comic potential. Stiller makes the observation that "they are rat-like creatures."

"It's just a big rat at the end of the day," agrees Aniston. At that moment, a woman in the press corps with neon-tinted hair stands up to reveal a T-shirt illustrated with ferrets. She objects to the way the stars are characterizing what are clearly her favorite pets.

"You're wearing a bunch of ferrets on your T-shirt," says Aniston, looking at the woman. "I'm so sorry, I should have looked closer." To which the woman replies, "Jennifer, I don't know if you are aware of this, but you are in Ferrets magazine this month." Aniston, looking more like a deer caught in headlights, says "I didn't even know there was a Ferrets magazine. …

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