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Serving Sara

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2002, Paramount
Elizabeth Hurley, Matthew Perry, Bruce Campbell
Reginald Hudlin
MPAA Rating:
[PG-13] crude humor, sexuality, language
99 minutes

After being presented with divorce papers, the beautiful Sara Moore (Hurley) conspires with a process server (Perry) to turn the tables on her husband and score half of his $20 million estate.

What's Good
sexy women

What's Bad
surprisingly unfunny
idiotic and heartless romantic comedy with zero chemistry
distractingly stupid interpretations of legal processes
slow, unfocused pacing
Matthew Perry is Chandler yet again

Reviewer: Andrew Manning (August 2002)

In Serving Sara, a failed marriage, flimsy legal interpretations, and drab humor are the ingredients for a comedy of errors. When process server Joe Tyler (Matthew Perry) delivers divorce papers under the conservative laws of Texas to hottie Sara Moore (Elizabeth Hurley), she stands to be penniless. But Sara casts her feminine charms on Joe and eventually concocts a plan to turn the tables on her husband, Gordon: if Joe can serve divorce papers to Gordon under New York's more liberal laws, she can score half of his $20 million estate. The scheme seems simple enough, except for the fact that a rival process server named Tony (Vincent Pastore) is hot on their trail to re-issue Texas-style papers to Sara. And so this tangle of motives boils down to a race of document swapping.

The story--yet another idiotic premise to set up a lifeless romantic comedy--is even more delusional than the genre's typical fodder. Even if there is a certain legality in handing papers to someone, I somehow doubt you can legitimately evade the process by throwing a dog at the server, or having your personal trainer beat him up. The grand finale in which Joe exploits a time zone discrepancy as a legal loophole further pushes the boundaries of bullsh*t, especially when a giant clock at a monster truck rally is used as an officially binding timestamp.

Such glaringly bogus absurdities could have been overlooked had the movie brought some entertaining laughs. But with its double dose of utter stupidity and surprisingly unfunny comedy, Serving Sara simply blows.

Bruce Campbell as cattle tycoon Gordon Moore and Jerry Stiller as a cop who assists Joe with the occasional favor are completely wasted. Campbell was a B-movie king of one-liners in the Evil Dead horror flicks, and Stiller was the most dysfunctional father of all as Frank Costanza on TV's Seinfeld. But the story gives the two little time and less material, instead letting Cedric the Entertainer ad lib a bunch of nonsense. That's the problem with PG-13 movies giving free reign to comedians whose best work is R-rated: they take the story off-course with tame, watered-down crap. Cedric's best joke is the one that's the least kid-friendly, when he complains about "a redneck threatening to hang a black man."

Matthew Perry does almost nothing to overcome his virtually inbred Chandler-ness, once again playing a starring movie role as if he were in another episode of Friends. Using his trademark mannerisms and sarcasm, the only way he could be more Chandler is if he actually asked, "Could I be more Chandler?" while prancing gayly. He only briefly deviates from his famous alter-ego when dishing out derisive insults like "Nostradumbass" and "Retardo Montalban" to Tony.

The sudden romance the film tries to spark between Joe and Sara is totally artificial. There's a weak attempt at the cliche fairy tale of "wealth does not equal true happiness" when the two compare notes on how their significant others left them over money. But the shallow way in which Sara's affections rest solely on Joe's ability to collect her loot makes the lesson seem half-hearted at best.

The pacing is slow and unfocused. Considering that Sara is in a race against time, you would think she'd be running around everywhere. But she and Joe casually stroll across the country, wandering aimlessly at such a leisurely speed that it's easy to forget they are being pursued.

The only thing that can remotely be counted as a saving grace for Serving Sara is its occasional sexiness. Various hot women float in and out of frame, including Amy Adams as Gordon's replacement wife and, of course, Elizabeth Hurley, who is again delivering her typical role of "sexy English chick." Scenes like Hurley's tight pants getting torn off are definitely cool, but they ultimately comprise a mere handful of unrevealing teases. And with all the stale garbage that must be tolerated to get to the short-lived sauce, it hardly seems worth the effort required to sit through this wretched movie.

Rating: 4 out of 10 (0=Abysmal, 5=Average, 10=Excellent)

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Celebrity Pictures and Profile: Elizabeth Hurley
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