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