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Serving Sara

movie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Serving Sara

Starring: Elizabeth Hurley, Matthew Perry
Director: Reginald Hudlin
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 100 Minutes
Release Date: August 2002
Genres: Comedy, Romance

*Also starring: Vincent Pastore, Bruce Campbell

Reviewer Roundup
1.  Harvey Karten review follows movie reviewvideo review
2.  Steve Rhodes read the review movie reviewmovie review
3.  Susan Granger read the review no stars
4.  Dustin Putman read the review movie reviewmovie review

Review by Harvey Karten
1½ stars out of 4

If you've ever been chased by a process server as I had been (just once), you know the feeling: your heart races, your stomach tightens just as it does when you're pursued by a cop for speeding, and you empathize with the sad souls who get their kicks by running from bulls at Pamplona. Ironically those unpleasant feelings are just the ones you want to have when you're watching a movie, and "Serving Sara," with its piling on of comic events, its romantic aspect and its cast of two well-known funny men and one classy babe should have provided them. Alas, the Sara that is served to us is no more enticing than the two men who are serving Sara. The result is a lame comedy featuring a bevy of jokes that fall flatter than a rookie cowboy on the Lone Star State's champion bucking bronco.

Reginald Hudlin, whose reputation for physical comedy was made from his box-office busting "Boomerang" and his more serious but still lighthearted "The Great White Hope" serves up an inelegant processor of subpoenas, Joe Tyler (Matthew Perry) whose job is to plunk a piece of paper into the classy hands of Sara Moore (Elizabeth Hurley) in order to please his boss Ray (Cedric the Entertainer) and collect five large for his troubles. What keeps him from completing this easy gig are Sara's slippery slaloms from her Manhattan hotel and cutthroat competition from his co-worker, Tony (Vincent Pastore), who more than once has tricked the gullible go-getter almost before he gets out of the gate. When Sara one-ups her sleazy husband, Gordon Moore (Bruce Campbell) by offering to pay Tyler one million if he would turn coat and instead serve Gordon first, the merry-go-roundelay is set in motion.

Though two heads are often better than one, scripters Jay Scherick and David Ronin ("Spin City" and the upcoming "National Security" and "I Spy") offer little in the way of verbal yocks, putting the burden on director Hudlin to provide enough slapstick to get the movie across. Having presumably absorbed the lesson of "American Pie" and "Road Trip" that grossout comedy often gains glorious grosses at the box office Hudlin in one scene situates Matthew Perry at a Texas Ranch (actually owned by Ross Perot), where he is forced to pretend he's a veterinarian. Ordered by the hands to retrieve from an impotent bull the kind of gel that the Farrelly Brothers coaxed out of a bewildered beau in "There's Something About Mary," Joe has his hands full, one of which is inserted up to his shoulder in his attempt to massage the animal's sluggish prostate.

Physical humor is fine, whether lowbrow or elegant. "American Pie" worked because of director Paul Weitz's sense of timing, a show-stealing performance by Eugene Levy, and the originality of the material. In the case of "Serving Sara," Matthew Perry is not so much miscast as inept while Elizabeth Hurley seems often to gaze at Perry in astonishment wondering how she landed in this road-trip that will have you thinking, "Are we there yet?"

Copyright 2002 Harvey Karten

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