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Serving Sara
(Widescreen)

review by Zach B.

 

 

MPAA Rated: PG-13 (For Crude Humor, Sexual Content and Language)

Running Time: 99 minutes

Starring: Matthew Perry, Elizabeth Hurley, Bruce Campbell, Amy Adams, Vincent Pastore and Cedric The Entertainer

Written by: Jay Scherick & David Ronn

Directed by: Reginald Hudlin

 

Studio: Paramount

Retail Price: $29.99

Features: Audio Commentary with Director Reginald Hudlin, Serving Sara - A Look Inside The Process, Outtakes with Optional Audio Commentary by Director Reginald Hudlin, Deleted Scenes, Extended/Alternate Scenes with Optional Audio Commentary by Director Reginald Hudlin, Theatrical Trailer

Specs: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English Dolby Digital 5.1, English Dolby Surround, French Dolby Surround, English Subtitles, English Closed Captions, Scene Selection (14 Scenes)

Released: January 28th, 2003

 

 

"My job sucks. Got no future, got no benefits."

 

These words open "Serving Sara," and the irony is just hilarious because the same thing can be said about the movie. The film sucks, I'm fairly sure it will have no future on home video and there are no real redeeming values to it at all. It seems like comedies in the vein of "Serving Sara" are made just for the hell of it. There is no thought given into actually developing a competent film, all in hopes audiences will be attracted to a decent cast and will have a desire to see it. And despite the film having some production problems with Perry's own addiction struggles, the film bombed and was panned when it released in August 2002. Even if audience tastes are hard to predict at times, there are times when they know a bad movie is coming out.

"Serving Sara" follows the painful misadventures of Joe Tyler (Matthew Perry), just your typical process server who pulls off some "zany" schemes just so that he can deliver some legal papers. But things become a bit messy when Joe has to serve Sara (Elizabeth Hurley), who's on the verge of becoming divorced from a ladies man and cattle tycoon named Gordon Moore (Bruce Campbell). While Joe is only going to get a substantial fee for serving Sara, Sara offers him to serve Gordon with her paper's first. His reward? A million dollars. Of course, Joe can't pass the opportunity up and so begins the search to track Gordon, all while his boss Ray (Cedric The Entertainer) and rival Tony (Vincent Pastore) add to the trouble.

I think the concept is decent enough in this movie, but the main problem is that it's all done terribly wrong. Besides the fact that it's incredibly predictable, this movie doesn't offer much as far as laughs, clever one-liners or any comedy at all. Most of the humor is just plain ridiculous and stupid, while some of the lines out of these characters mouths are just atrocious - you'll laugh at how crappy most of the dialogue is. I also didn't enjoy the characters. Be it the good guys or the bad guys, they're really unlikable (and stereotypical too)! Joe is particuarly grating, Ray is obnoxious, Sara lacks any real charm, Tony is a dumb brute and Gordon is everything you expect. The whole screenplay is horrendous, and the story runs way too loose. This movie is not funny at all - which is embarassing, since all of these actors before have proved they do have great comedic timing.

But while the film is not funny and the characters have "bleh" written all over them, the actors do a good job and are the only thing I enjoyed about the film. While Matthew Perry has only lifted the "Friends" movie curse once before (with 2000's "The Whole Nine Yards"), he obviously couldn't "save" (WOW, MY JOKE IS FUNNIER THAN THE WHOLE MOVIE!) this film. But with that said, I enjoyed what he offers here. He's an unlikable loser, but he does have a strong enthusiasm that works in favor of the film. While some of you think Elizabeth Hurley is just eye candy when she appears in films, she has been making a name for herself as a credible actress during the past few years with a host of big and small films. While this film surely doesn't add much to her resumé, I think she does have what it takes to be a leading lady in romantic comedies.

The supporting cast is really nice here (I guess famous cult actors need the money). Bruce Campbell (yep, THE Bruce Campbell) plays against type (sorta) here and seems to relish the role nicely, even if there's not much to it. Cedric The Entertainer doesn't add laughs, but definitely has some vigor in him. Vincent Pastore and Amy Adams are also pretty pleasing, as they don't do anything over-the-top - roles in which it would be easy to do. But as good as the acting is for an unfunny movie with terrible characters who have poor development, they really can't do much to save the film.

Reginald Hudlin directed "Serving Sara," and this is something you'd expect him to tackle. What happened to this guy? While he's strictly done comedic films, Hudlin has lost his luster as a director over the past few years. Despite showcasing some talent in "Boomerang" and the original "House Party," he's been downhill way too long and has become one of the most generic and uninteresting directors out there. "Serving Sara" is just further proof of that, as he tries to make a rather accessible film but really has no idea what he's doing with it.

I could just summarize everything right here about the movie but I think you get the point that this movie is just plain weak. "Serving Sara" is one big miss - something you probably already sensed from a thousand miles away.

 

Being offered in full screen and widescreen versions, this widescreen version presents the film in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio, which is anamorphically encoded. The transfer is up to Paramount's usual standards, but isn't perfect. The transfer's flaws are by no means fatal: halo edges here and there, many blemishes, some dirt pieces, noise, grain which is pretty distracting and a softness to the image. Other than that, the variety of colors are well saturated and have a nice vibrant sense, fleshtones are very nice and detail is very good. It doesn't break new ground or anything, but if you're going to watch this dreck for an hour and a half, you'll at least be pleased by its visuals.

 

The English Dolby Digtial 5.1 track works well for the film. The film does keep a nice balance between the music, dialogue and surround effects and is careful in that there is no overpowering between these key sounds. Dialogue sounds razor sharp while the music, mostly background pop songs, play smoothly through the channels. There are also some decent surround effects, mainly through the shaky physical comedy the film offers and that does add life. The mix does a good job of keeping you enclosed in what is going on, all with some ample subwoofer use. This is a well-rounded and nicely laid track. Also included are English and French Dolby Surround tracks, English subtitles and English closed captions.

 

The film was one of 2002's biggest commercial and critical flops, but if you're one of the five fans of the movie, then you're sure to be pleased that there are actually some decent extras on the DVD. First up is an Audio Commentary with Director Reginald Hudlin. Hudlin actually kinda sounds like Mike Tyson! But besides that point, Hudlin seems robotic in what he presents to the listener and how he talks. He discusses ideas he had for the movie, obvious on-screen happenings and some challenges he faced with the editing. Hudlin makes some remark that test audiences "laughed" at this movie - I'm assuming that the theater vented laughing gas or everyone was drugged before they sat down for the screening. Hudlin talks about what he likes doing as a director and how he seems to be story-driven, even if I felt the film lacked direction. There are some moments of silence and he does seem to go for making comments about style as if he's a true cinematic original, when in reality it's all bland and done before. There is an interesting comment here and there, but for the most part, this track is quite akward. So yeah, you five enjoy this commentary...

Serving Sara - A Look Inside The Process lasts a bit over 19 minutes and is a cut above your typical making-of featurette. Reginald Hudlin talks about tackling the movie and actually comes off more interesting here than in the commentary. Jerry Stiller, Matthew Perry, Elizabeth Hurley, Bruce Campbell, Vincent Pastore and Cedric The Entertainer all give their input on the film, strong portions of the flick and what the whole project means. There's stuff about casting, working on the set and the usual stuff. A lot of ground is covered, and I actually found most of it (GASP!) interesting and sincere. Clips from the movie, stills, behind-the-scenes footage and a fun moment or two on camera is dispensed on this featurette. This is really well-made, and you'd actually think the movie was good after you're done watching this. But I guess that's what these featurettes are for...

As if the film wasn't bad enough, a decent amount of stuff was cut! There are three Outtakes with Optional Audio Commentary by Director Reginald Hudlin. The outtakes, "Gordon In The Office," "Mechanical Bull" and "Tony On The Plane" are not too amusing but Hudlin offers some decent insights on what he was going for with some optional shots and whatnot. There are also two Deleted Scenes: "Roadside" and "Tony Asks For Direction." As you'd imagine, these add nothing to the movie and whole there is an option to listen to optional comments from Hudling, he says NOTHING on both scenes. Finally, there are Extended/Alternate Scenes with Optional Audio Commentary by Director Reginald Hudlin. The trimming is obvious, but Hudlin gives his simple reasoning here (the scenes are "The Punch," "Meadown Muffing" and "Missing Stapler.") All the scenes are in non-anamorphic widescreen and two channel English sound. There is also the Theatrical Trailer in non-anamorphic widescreen and 5.1 Dolby Digital sound. Oh, and a romantic movies montage for Paramount movies comes before the main menu.

 

The thought of sumarizing "Serving Sara" again makes me pretty sick, so unless you're obsessed with Matthew Perry, Elizabeth Hurley or that dreamboat Bruce Campbell, be sure to skip this movie (even if you are desperate for a fun romantic comedy). While the movie may be pretty lousy, this DVD definitely does deliver with some nice bonus features, a good 5.1 mix and a very pleasing transfer. Still, the list of price of $29.99 is a bit high (is Paramount trying to NOT make more money off this movie?), but for some reason you need this "worthy" piece of entertainment, then the price can be justified.