100 minutes | Rated: PG-13
Opened: Friday, August 23, 2002
Directed by Reginald Hudlin
Starring Matthew Perry, Elizabeth Hurley, Bruce Campbell, Vincent Pastore, Cedric the Entertainer, Amy Adams
This film is on the Worst of 2002 list.
SMALL SCREEN SHRINKAGE: 10%|
LETTERBOX: NOT NECESSARY
Only those looking to be cured of a jones for Elizabeth Hurley's sexpot routine need bother renting.
VIDEO RELEASE: 01.28.2003
Process server Perry helps sexpot Hurley get a divorce in inept, inane, arduously unfunny bomb
Seeing several hundred movies a year as I do, every once in a while I'll come across one so insufferably inept from beginning to end that it's actually hard to review, simply because I don't know where to begin.
Should I describe in painful detail the bumbling, double-take-dependent, "Look maw! I'm acting!"-quality performances that lack even a cartoonish level of credible humanity? Should I berate the script that leans on lifeless, "Oh, yeah?!"-style repartee for its hypothetical laughs and fails even to explain adequately the movie's premise? Perhaps the place to start is with the plot holes so large and obvious a marching band might as well be stomping through them in clown clothes, playing a college football fight song on untuned instruments.
"Serving Sara," has all of this and worse -- much worse.
Adding to the burden of proof that the one-note male stars of "Friends" can't pick a good movie script to save their lives, Matthew Perry stars in this arduously unfunny comedy as a New York process server assigned to drop divorce papers on a sexy, unsuspecting trophy wife played by Elizabeth Hurley and her silicon-injected lips.
She offers Perry a million bucks to turn the tables and serve her rich Texas rancher husband (Bruce Campbell of "Evil Dead" fame) instead, thus somehow giving her the upper hand in any divorce settlement. So the two head for Dallas to hunt the guy down and a series of bad sketch comedy adventures ensue.
Directed by Reginald Hudlin ("The Ladies Man"), there's almost no story arc or character development in "Serving Sara." Just dead-on-arrival set pieces like the slapstick scene inside an airport's baggage system (where's security?) that serves no purpose other than to tear Hurley's clothes so she can spend the rest of the movie in a micro-mini schoolgirl skirt and an itty-bitty T-shirt pilfered from someone's suitcase.
Trying to serve Campbell papers at his ranch, Perry poses as a veterinarian for a five-minute lowbrow bit involving long rubber gloves and bull semen. When sneaking into Campbell's house and health club to try again, Perry affects incompetent fake accents and personalities for no reason.
You get the idea.
Perry and Hurley have so little chemistry together that when they first kiss (after she falls for the insultingly trite pick-up line, "If Gordon can't tell how beautiful, sexy and wonderful you are, then he's an idiot."), they each look as if they're trying not to use their lips while sucking on a lemon. Prior to that moment, their third-rate, inexplicably at-odds banter hadn't a hint of flirtation, even when they're stuck in bed together (she's sleeping in a wet towel, he's fully clothed) in a cheap hotel room. Their canned conversation begins "So...what are you gonna do with the money?"
His answer (start a vineyard) makes no sense (with only $1 million?). But then, the whole scene exists just to prelude the inevitable happy ending epilogue and build some boo-hoo backstory about Perry's past as a high-priced lawyer with too many ethics.
Add to this already lethal mix a henchman in snakeskin boot (snake heads still attached), a rival process server (Vincent Pastore) after Hurley but sent on a wild goose chase by Perry, a pointlessly showboating role for comedian (and horrible actor) Cedrick the Entertainer as Perry's double-crossed boss, and lifeless line delivery that strangles the film's few sharp jokes, and what we have here is a bona fide bomb that never even explains adequately what a process server does and why.
Normally I enjoy writing reviews of horrible movies because I can have a field day making fun of them. But "Serving Sara" isn't just bad, it's so inane and inanimate that besides not knowing how to start this critique, I don't know how to end it, except to say I've only seen one worse movie this year (Adam Sandler's hatchet job version of "Mr. Deeds"), and this one comes close to beating it.