Review: Serving Sara

by Jake Sproul

Rating: (out of )

You can tell a lot about the film from its opening credits. My theory has never been more dead on with Serving Sara. Serving Sara’s opening credits seem like a word jumble whose answer is “vagina.” That pretty much sums up Serving Sara’s plot, a jumbled mess and a bunch of dirty jokes.

If you have seen the trailer for Serving Sara, or have viewed a preview, you probably already know that Matthew Perry plays a process server. This choice of profession of the character of Joe Tyler (Matthew Perry) is the lone bright spot in this other wise bleak comedy. I don’t recall any other movie about or featuring a process server. This is surprising because this career seems like one that is comical in its own right. Too bad the job has been featured in such a disappointing manner.

As I have stated, Joe Tyler (Perry) is a process server who has been in a bit of a slump lately. His boss Ray (Cedric the Entertainer) has decided to give him an easy, yet important job: serve divorce papers rich Texan wife, Sara Moore (Liz Hurley). (At this point, I must interject my disbelief that they would cast a Brit as a Texan wife, with little to no background on how she found her way to Texas.) Shortly after Joe has served Sara, they run into each other on a bus. Not wanting to be left poor because of Texas’ tough divorce laws, she convinces Joe to tear up her papers, and help her to serve her cheating husband (Bruce Campbell)...for one million dollars. Joe accepts this proposition, and immediately Joe and Sara are on a wild goose chase to locate her illusive husband.

The plot of this film is not very impressing. It feels very child-like, but they add in some sex related humor to garner the PG-13 rating. From the very beginning to the very end, the film felt like a giant cartoon. Serving Sara aspires to have the campy feeling like Rat Race, with Joe and Sara’s constant darting around America. However, it only induces sleep.

During their escapade, Joe and Sara flirt constantly, and begin to fall for each other. This could have been believable, but while Liz Hurley and Matthew Perry may have appeal separately, together, they have no chemistry. Combine the lack of chemistry with a poorly written romance and romantic scenes and you have a romance that is riddled with cliches and laughable...something that the comedy in Serving Sara, intended to get laughs, couldn’t succeed in doing. After 30 minutes it becomes painfully tedious to watch these three people run around the country playing an over inflated version of tag.

Since the child like plot has failed, and the romance has disappointed, that leaves it up to the comedy to save this film. Surprise, surprise, the comedy only digs Serving Sara deeper and deeper...closing in on cinematic hell. A few weeks ago, I saw Austin Powers in Goldmember, and thought that it had served me the raunchiest jokes of the summer; leave it to Serving Sara to serve me a larger helping of raunch. I found the “comedy” of Serving Sara to be almost offensive. Honestly folks, I don’t want to pay $6 to see Matthew Perry have a threesome with a bull and a plastic cow.

Serving Sara runs way too long at 100 minutes. And to top it all off, the ending, which is supposed to be the final showdown, is ridiculously dumb, and even crosses into irritating territory.

Television’s number one rated show, Friends, has been going strong for just short of a decade. This has been both a pray answered and a curse for the six cast members. Perry will be making one million an episode this season on Friends, however, Matthew Perry will forever be typecast as “Chandler Bing.” And he doesn’t seem to be doing much to change that by taking a role which is merely an extension of Chandler neurosis. I don’t think performing drama right out the gate is the answer, but maybe a different form of comedy is in order. As for his co-star Elizabeth Hurley, she has never really impressed me as an actress, and she doesn’t impress me here. However, while I wasn’t impressed, it is worth noting that she does have a good sense of comic timing. Something crucial in a role like this.

Serving Sara was shot back in late 2000 - early 2001. And even with all that time to mature, Serving Sara is very juvenile. The romance is tepid, the jokes are straight out of American Pie, and the script feels like a cartoon. That just doesn’t do it for me.

© 2002 Jake Sproul

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