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Serving Sara

Reviewed By Chris Parry
Posted 09/04/02 08:24:37

"Sleazy process server meets sleazy trophy wife. Who can't relate?"
2 stars (Pretty Bad)

There's a lot of things wrong with Serving Sara, from the title of the film on down to the screenplay. In fact, at any other time of cinema history, this would almost certainly be considered as bad as it gets, but thankfully for Matthew Perry, all you need to beat garbage like The Master of Disguise is to make it past a 72-minute running time. Congratulations Matt! You're not the worst!

Liz Hurley, however, is so undeniably the worst that it hurts to watch her. In anything. Seriously, if she were to meet me in a hotel lobby and slide her room-keys along the front desk to me, I'd have to fight really hard not to slide, nay THROW, them right back. Can anyone else see the similarity between Hurley and Lyle Lovett, or is it just me?

So SAG scab Hurley plays a trophy wife of a Texas Millionaire who is looking to replace her with a newer model. When Matt Perry serves her Texas-based divorce papers, she decides that a New York hearing would better serve her financial future and offers Perry's character a million bucks to make it so. What ensues is a ridiculous series of misadventures where, for some reason, Perry lets his client tag along and basically keep him from getting his man. Makes no sense? That's exactly what I thought. But if you're after deliriously sculpted plot twists, I'm guessing you're not likely to be looking too hard at a Matthew Perry vehicle.

In a total change of form, Perry opts to take his character in this film way oer to the dark side, as an unshaven, sleazy, mercenary loser. Perhaps he's looking to stretch himself as an actor, and hey, a change is as good as a holiday, only Perry doesn't seem able to decide whether he wants to be the bad guy or the good guy, leaving no reason for anyone to have the slightest bit of empathy with his character, nor to hate him. You don't like him, you don't feel like you know anyone like him, and you don't particularly want to know him. Frankly, if he was hit by a truck you'd probably shrug and go with it, because you couldn't care less whether he lives, dies, or is eaten by ravenous squirrels.

And he's the nicer of the lead pair. Hurley, on the other hand, puts the 'skank' in 'skankyho'. She's so unlikeable, so uninteresting, so 'so what', that it's really becoming less and less of a wonder that Hugh Grant slipped Divine Brown a fiddy for a backseat blowjob. If I was engaged to this rockfish, I think I'd be scouring the back alleys for something a little less nasty myself.

what it comes right down to is the fact that Hurley and Perry have all the chemistry of a Strawberry Pop-Tart, and any screenplay that deems it possible for two unlikeable characters to fall for one another just by one of them saying, "if your husband can't see how beautiful and smart you are..." well, let's just say I wasn't the only one saying "gimme a god damned break" in the theater.

Essentially, this is a weak comedy, with a weak situation, weak performances, weak casting, terrible music and all the dust that having sat on a shelf for a year (while Perry got clean) will bring to a project. I'm sure at one point (when Perry had fans and Hurley hadn't worn out her welcome) this would have been an enticing studio investment, but in the cold hard light of today, it's a losing proposition that might play well in Ecuador, but won't do real good business anywhere that has other cinema choices.

I mean, the least they could have done was give us a little nudity, instead of taking the easy road with "oops, my arm is up a cow's butt" humor. Bruce Campbell continues to be wasted in bad movies (do you think the words "internet fanboys like Bruce Campbell" are taped to the side of every casting director's cubicle these days?) and while, yes, there are a few lines here and there that will make you snicker, they tend to come gift-wrapped in hokey puns and the kind of laughless comedy that induces nothing more than the sound of crickets from an audience.

If Perry is going to save his career, dark and brooding ain't going to be the way he does it. In fact, at this point, I can't imagine any way he could save his career at all.

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