Bruce Campbell, Vincent Pastore, Cedric the Entertainer, Amy Adams, Terry Crews, Jerry Stiller"/>
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With: Matthew Perry, Elizabeth Hurley, Bruce Campbell, Vincent Pastore, Cedric the Entertainer, Amy Adams, Terry Crews, Jerry Stiller
Written by: David Ronn, Jay Scherick
Directed by: Reginald Hudlin
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for crude humor, sexual content and language
Running Time: 99
Date: 08/20/2002

Serving Sara (2002)

1/2 Star (out of 4)

Lousy Service

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

When the new romantic comedy Serving Sara ended, my colleagues and Ibroke out into an argument. We did not argue about whether or notServing Sara was a bad movie. We argued about whether or not it wasthe year's worst movie. I believe I might have seen one or two filmsthat may be worse, but other reviewers were of the firm belief that theyhad not.

Here's the scoop: Matthew Perry plays Joe Tyler, one of those guys who serves people divorce papers and subpoenas and such. The movie begins with an Unrelated Incident involving a mobster so that we can see how good he is at his job. Perry takes the cynical side of Chandler from TV's "Friends" and plays it up, sucking all the charm out of it.

He works for Ray (Cedric the Entertainer), who paces around in his office, frets and throws little fits. Joe's main competition is Tony (Vincent Pastore, from "The Sopranos"), who tries to sabotage all of Joe's marks.

His latest target is Sara Moore (Elizabeth Hurley), the trophy wife of a rich Texan named Gordon (Bruce Campbell). If he serves her divorce papers, then the trial will take place in Texas where the good ol' boys will ensure that Gordon gets everything. However, if Sara can serve Gordon first, then the trial takes place in New York and Sara is guaranteed at least half of Gordon's millions.

So Sara convinces Joe to pretend that the original papers never existed (despite the fact that they've already been officially filed) and together they set out to serve Gordon.

I'll describe two of the movie's most inept scenes. Firstly, Joe and Sara are lurking about Gordon's ranch. A door opens and a cowboy says, "Boy am I glad to see you." He's somehow mistaken the leather-jacketed Joe and the mini-skirted Sara for veterinarians who have come to get a mating bull "in the mood." Big laughs ensue when Joe has to ram his arm up the bull's bum. Through all this, none of Gordon's employees recognize Gordon's wife standing there.

Here's another doozy. When Joe and Sara track Gordon down at a fancy restaurant, they develop a plan. They run up to the restaurant and bang on the windows, alerting Gordon. Gordon runs out the front door, and despite the fact that Joe and Sara are standing right there, he gets away. Then we cut back to the restaurant -- where Sara suddenly runs out the door. (Unless I missed something, she never even went in.)

So the plot is lacking. We can maybe deal with that. But is it funny?

Not in the least. The jokes are telegraphed so far in advance they must have been lost in the mail. Joe's secret passion is that he wants to run a vineyard and he makes his own wine in his apartment. After a day's work, he comes home and makes a big deal out of tasting his latest batch. Can you see what's coming? Right, a big, obvious spit take -- repeated once just in case we missed it the first time.

Later, the dunderheaded Tony enters, tries the same wine, and thinks it's good. Even Milton Berle wouldn't touch that setup -- it's just too old. Throw in a couple of fart jokes, a couple of kicked-in-the-crotch jokes and a couple of cow-pattie jokes and you've got Serving Sara.

On the plus side, the film takes a few easy potshots at the Texas mentality, though I probably only laughed because of our illustrious President and his connection with the Lone Star state.

Director Reginald Hudlin made a splash in 1990 with House Party, but has gone on to develop no directorial personality whatsoever. (His last film was The Ladies' Man.) From the look of it, you'd think that no director was present at all on Serving Sara. Even a computer would have turned in a more competent film.

I'm not finished, not by a long shot. I could go on for pages listing the movie's flaws and ineptitudes. But I'll close by saying that the film even fails as a romance. Perry's dark cynicism never has a chance to melt, and he suddenly kisses the girl simply because the time has come and the script calls for it. He has absolutely no chemistry with the sexy Hurley, and their love affair seems more cold and mean than warm and tender.

However, I should also devote a short paragraph to the great Bruce Campbell, a self-described cult movie and B movie star who, whenever he appears in mainstream films, tends to get stuck in losers like this, Congo and McHale's Navy. But he always comes away unscathed, thanks to his enormous skill and screen presence. It makes me happy that the few people who will pay to see this mess will at least discover him.

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