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SERVING SARA

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Matthew Perry, Elizabeth Hurley, Bruce Campbell, Amy Adams, Vincent Pastore, Cedric the Entertainer
Director: Reginald Hudlin
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Surround, French Dolby Surround
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Studio: Paramount
Features: See Review
Length: 99 Minutes
Release Date: January 28, 2003

“That's great, Tony. You're a regular process-serving savant.”

“What'd you call me?”

“Savant—that's somebody who's really good at something.”

“Oh, thanks, Joe.”

“…while being a complete idiot.”

Film ***

My enjoyment of Serving Sara had to be based on a rare element; I had to forgive it for having the lack of an intriguing premise. It combines elements of both road adventures and screwball comedies, and if you look at past films of the same kind, the plot may have been non-existent, but the laughs were always at full throttle, which is exactly what Serving Sara is capable of. There are countless laughs in the picture, and energetic comic appeal from the actors making this a very entertaining comedy.

Matthew Perry, of Friends fame, stars as Joe Tyler, a process server who was once on top of the game. His boss, Ray (Cedric the Entertainer), thinks he's lost the touch he once had in this business, but is willing to give him one last redeeming assignment. It requires serving divorce papers to Sara Moore (Elizabeth Hurley), beautiful wife of a millionaire businessman/cowboy Gordon Moore (Bruce Campbell). Shocked by the news of the sudden divorce, Sara convinces Joe to disregard her papers and serve Gordon instead, for which she'll pay Joe ten percent of her divorce settlement, which equals to a cool million dollars. Joe naturally agrees.

The two then hit the road from New York to Texas where Gordon is currently overseeing the opening of a new cattle ranch. Once Ray discovers that Joe has flipped his mark, he sends Joe's rival, the incompetent and bumbling Tony (Vincent Pastore) to mark Sara. It won't be easy for the two, because Gordon has dispatched his own personal security to keep a look out for Joe and Sara so that he won't get served. It goes without saying that while pursuing the scum of a husband, the two will eventually fall in love.

The film is, at best, a screwball comedy, and it has some hugely funny moments to back this up. Such moments include Joe getting his lights punched out by Gordon's female personal trainer, a scene where Joe and Sara elude airport security by way of a luggage chute, and a jaw dropping sequence where Joe, pretending to be a veterinarian, is advised by cattle ranchers to help an impotent cow with…well you know where I'm getting at. The huge laughs come, though, at a climatic pursuit during an arena monster truck show, which includes massive slapstick hilarity, something that is missing from many comedies today.

The performances in the movie are good enough for a comedy. Matthew Perry and Elizabeth Hurley strike just the right note as far as chemistry goes, and Bruce “Ash” Campbell is the ideal actor to play a scheming, cheating husband, as he has a lot of fun with his performance. I have to say that I really appreciate that the name Gordon was applied to this character (lol). Some additional laughs are also provided by Cedric the Entertainer as Joe's increasingly uptight boss.

Serving Sara proves that once in a rare while, you can have a somewhat uninteresting premise, but still deliver many laughs in the process. I find myself laughing endlessly through this screwball caper of a movie, and I recommend it highly to those in search of some purely silly laughs.

Video ****

Being one of Paramount's first initial DVD releases of 2003, they have done themselves quite well as far as the video transfer is concerned. The anamorphic picture on Serving Sara is that of a consistently sharp and clear one, complete with glowing natural colors and absolute flawlessness. The picture quality takes very good advantage of the movie's numerous settings.

Audio ***

A very good 5.1 mix is put to use here, and for a comedy, it manages to do better than one would expect. Dialogue and music are both heard in pure clarity, and numerous sequences, like the monster truck showdown, are an outstanding listen and at times deliver good dynamic range.

Features ***

This disc includes a commentary track by director Reginald Hudlin, a featurette titled “Serving Sara: A Look at the Process”, 3 Outtakes, 2 Deleted Scenes, 3 Extended/Alternate Scenes, and a trailer.

Summary:

Serving Sara is high on serving the laughs at a multiple pace. Those looking for a good old fashioned screwball comedy shouldn't have a problem laughing as hard and frequently as I did.