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Reviewed March 1st, 2003 by Brian White


Why does a movie that is supposed to make me laugh make me so angry? Perhaps because a movie with this much promise should have turned out much better. Look at the ingredients: a wacky road movie, Matthew Perry, Elizabeth Hurley, Bruce Campbell, Big Pussy… This movie should have been a hoot. But more than falling flat, it fails in every way. It comes across as being very amateurish. Serving Sarah is predictable, and not very funny.

Serving Sara is the story of a process server named Joe, and his target, Sara. Joe, once a hot shot in his field, has fallen on some hard times. Serving Sara is his last chance. Joe has been tasked to serve Sara with divorce papers from Texas, so that her husband can make off with more money. Sara hatches a plan to serve her husband first. She recruits Joe, and a crazy road picture begins.

Vincent Pastore, Big Pussy from the Sopranos, plays a rival process server who is both Joe's dupe, and his nemesis. Cedric the Entertainer plays Joe's boss, who is keen to end our hero's career. The always-entertaining Bruce Campbell, of Evil Dead fame, plays Sara's husband.

So with such a talented cast, what is wrong? The actors and some of the events appear to be pasted into the movie. It is entirely unbelievable. Perry, according to the behind-the-scenes documentary, wanted to play a character other than Chandler Bing. I'm quite sure he can play an embittered, street-smart, wise-ass. However, he doesn't really pull it off. He's pretty phony, even for a comedy. Hurley isn't the strongest actress, but she can be delightful in a movie if is suits her. Here, she's unbelievable as well. We're always watching Perry and Hurley, not Joe and Sara.

The situations also seem parachuted into the flick. The outfit in which Sara finds herself is such an obvious comedic device that it draws attention to itself for all the wrong reasons. The bull veterinary treatment is a pretty funny concept, but it isn't what it could have been.

While it may be easy to blame the script, there have been many hilarious movies based on derivative scripts. The fact that a movie follows a well-trodden path can often become part of the comedy. While not the strongest script, Serving Sara could have become a better movie.

Who is to blame? It must be director Reginald Hudlin. Perry is obviously capable of entertaining us and being very funny on screen. What's the problem here? Spike Lee once said that bad acting on the screen is the director's fault. I agree. It's almost ironic that Mike Judge makes a cameo, as he directed the cult classic comedy Office Space, and here he finds himself in a cookie-cutter comedy that just doesn't work.

On the documentary, Hudlin says that his goal for this film is to give working people some entertainment on the weekend. If you want entertainment this weekend, rent or buy My Big Fat Greek Wedding, and ignore this flick like the plague.

How does the disc look? Surprisingly, not that good. Clearly, this movie had a decent budget, and you expect video releases of current films to shine. There is an amount of dirt visible in the transfer, and the 1.85:1, anamorphic image has a bit of grain. Now the people over at Criterion are quite keen to make their releases film-like. This is no Criterion disc, and if I want film-like, I'll queue up at the multiplex with the monkeys who are willing to pay $12 to see this garbage. At home, I want the image as clear as a bell. A separate fullscreen edition is also available.

The 5.1, Dolby Digital surround mix fares better than the video. The mix is active when it should be and weighted toward the front when it should be. There are both thunder, and cool helicopter effects happening in the surrounds.

Extras include a feature-length, screen specific commentary from director Hudlin. There are some entertaining and informative insights on the track. Also included are deleted scenes, outtakes, and alternate/expanded scenes in which you can opt for director’s commentary. The disc is rounded off with the theatrical trailer and a making-off documentary.


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