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Overall Rating

Awesome: 13.64%
Worth A Look36.36%
Average: 18.18%
Pretty Bad: 19.7%
Total Crap: 12.12%

5 reviews, 36 user ratings

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Serendipity (2001)
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by Rob Gonsalves

"And we're supposed to care because...?"
1 stars

For those who were yearning for another keep-'em-apart-till-the-last-minute romantic comedy on the order of 'Sleepless in Seattle' and 'You've Got Mail,' the once-daring indie-cinema vanguard Miramax brings 'Serendipity,' the goofiest movie Nora Ephron never wrote.

This is another one, folks -- one of those gentle fables in which everyone on the planet knows the leading man and leading lady were meant to be together, except of course for themselves and the people unfortunate enough to be engaged to them. The end justifies the means: It doesn't matter who else gets hurt as long as the name-above-the-title stars are happy as the end credits roll.

The couple in question are John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale, two smart and capable actors (let's overlook America's Sweethearts and Pearl Harbor) trapped inside a Rube Goldberg contraption of a screenplay (by Marc Klein). Seven years ago in New York (a magical New York in which the Twin Towers have been digitally removed so as not to distract 2001's audiences, though the first section unfolds in 1994), Jonathan Trager (Cusack) and Sara Thomas (Beckinsale) meet cute over a pair of gloves at a trendy store. They go ice skating and are mutually smitten, yet Sara decides that if they were really meant for each other, they will have to meet again by chance. If everyone thought like Sara, the world population would plummet.

The years pass, and Jonathan and Sara have moved on to new lives and new loves -- Jonathan is about to get married to Halley (Bridget Moynihan), and Sara lives in San Francisco with her pompous lute-playing fiancé Lars (John Corbett). Lars is made a self-absorbed jerk, and Halley is made a near-total zero, all the better for us to accept that Jonathan and Sara could do better and could have done better if Sara hadn't been such a fate-obsessed ditz all those years ago.

Movies like this frustrate me, and not only because so much of the structure depends on the lovers just missing each other, misunderstanding what they see or hear, or generally acting stupid for 90 minutes until, bowing to the demands of this genre, they finally fall into each other's arms. No, the frustration comes from these movies' almost callous disregard for the people that the main lovers toss aside in their quest for one another. What if Lars were a good man as well as a talented musician, and what if Halley had even a single scrap of personality? What if our lovers were fated to be with them? Then Jonathan and Sara could meet again, decide that love isn't always as neat as love in the movies, and behave like adults.

We should be thankful, I suppose, that Serendipity offers us some diversion in the way of a colorful supporting cast: Jeremy Piven and Molly Shannon as Jonathan's and Sara's respective best friends; the scene-stealing Eugene Levy as a rigid salesman. But except for some moments between real-life friends Cusack and Piven (who aren't allowed a tenth of the funky rapport they had in Grosse Pointe Blank) and some bits between Cusack and Levy that feel improvised, the talented cast is weighed down by the plot's idiot mechanics. At one point, poor Molly Shannon is beaned by a golf ball and whacked with a golf club, for no purpose other than a cheap laugh; we next expect to see her in the hospital, but no, she's chatting over coffee with Sara without so much as a bandage on her head.

The stupidity piles up at the climax, which shovels on the coincidences (a five-dollar bill with his name and number on it! a copy of Love in the Time of Cholera with her name and number in it!) and, again, forgets all about poor Hally jilted at the altar -- there's not so much as a single line of dialogue in which Jonathan has to deal with the pain he must've caused.

At the end, the lovers meet at that same skating rink, with the same fake-looking snow falling on them, and when I was supposed to be happy about the reunion, I found myself instead looking at Jonathan and thinking, You selfish bastard -- what's going to happen if you meet another sexy British woman by chance in the city; are you going to ditch Sara, too?

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originally posted: 01/04/07 14:23:59
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User Comments

9/08/19 Karen_S sweet film with perfect cast 5 stars
8/19/15 Carol Cute couple in touching film. 5 stars
1/02/15 Catherine H sweet film about fate, destiny, romance 5 stars
1/09/11 JP Awful awful awful 1 stars
4/21/10 Amar V If you leave the 'fate' part, this is an immensely enjoyable film. 4 stars
12/23/08 David This is a fantasy, not to be taken seriously, as such, it works quite well. 4 stars
7/08/06 NS Good romantic comedy! 4 stars
1/09/05 R.W. Welch Fun with fate. Some decent writing. WAL for romantics. 3 stars
9/08/04 Aaron Smith Interesting love story. I liked it. 4 stars
8/23/04 Stevie Y. Cusack & Beckinsale are perfect together. Fun, heartwarming, & well written. 5 stars
7/29/04 Stacy Love It makes me cry every time I watch it 5 stars
10/12/03 laura paterson disappointing that Cusack wasted his talents on this! 3 stars
12/27/02 Zaharin Hamid aka The Movie Samseng Why fuck with destiny? Where's the faith in that? 1 stars
12/04/02 Jimmy Sweet movie 4 stars
8/03/02 Jim A flake and a flirt jerk around their fiance(e)s while trying to get some 3 stars
7/02/02 Phil M. Aficionado How many coincidences can you put into an hour and half? Always room for one more 3 stars
5/27/02 Phoenix I hate to admit it, but I kinda liked it. Cusack and Beckinsale were great. 4 stars
4/21/02 natasha John Cusack and Jeremy Piven are worth watching 4 stars
3/13/02 James Horton It was a nice pleasant film 4 stars
2/09/02 Veronica Tatterworth Strange, I remember liking it, but've forgotten mostly what it's about. 4 stars
2/01/02 Ashley Corpening John Cusack helps make this highly contrived romantic thriller more watchable 4 stars
12/28/01 Kimberly J. Crady The story was magical. New York needs some magic right now. 5 stars
12/27/01 Julie excellent romance, feel good movie, John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale were wonderful! 5 stars
12/26/01 julie pretty cute, but definitly needed some more screen time of john and kate together 4 stars
11/03/01 Jess loved everything about it! 5 stars
10/30/01 Girl 9 Another cheesy date movie....*gag* 3 stars
10/18/01 cindy Great date film....wonderfully sappy!! 4 stars
10/18/01 Catherine Schneider I hate romance films but loved this one. 4 stars
10/16/01 Bud A no surprises romantic comedy. Great date movie. 4 stars
10/14/01 Dane Clark It's a bad movie.. if you have no soul. 5 stars
10/12/01 Jestyr Def. a great date flick, and all around good movie. 4 stars
10/11/01 ThatGuy High Fidelity minus the Top 5 lists. Jeremy Piven rocks tho. 4 stars
10/08/01 asdfk; Bad camera goofs; Mic in frame; etc. WarmFuzzy Film; Bring Date 4 stars
10/07/01 Arthur Keissel A good date movie. Just lot's of fun to watch. 4 stars
10/02/01 mcf Paper thin plot... don't waste your $10 2 stars
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  05-Oct-2001 (PG-13)



Directed by
  Peter Chelsom

Written by
  Marc Klein

  John Cusack
  Kate Beckinsale
  Jeremy Piven
  Eugene Levy
  Molly Shannon
  Bridget Moynahan

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