I love “Friends”, for the laughs and the friendship, yes, but it’s the love too! As often as I laugh watching the show, what keeps me watching is how darn touching it can get too! It’s like a weekly dose of premium romantic comedy! You’d think the six stars of the show would have made an easy break into big screen romantic comedies by now, but somehow the haven’t. Courtney Cox had the Scream movies, David Schwimmer and Lisa Kudrow had nice supporting parts in a couple of good movies, Jennifer Aniston was in a string of not so memorable chick flicks, Matt Leblanc made a movie with a monkey… But star-making turns? We’re still waiting.
My best bet for post-“Friends” success would be Matthew Perry. Perry is so hilarious that he lit up even so-so films like Almost Heroes, “Fools Rush In” and “The Whole Nine Yards”. He could become an A-list romantic lead, but not by appearing in films as misguided as “Serving Sara”. He must have been really smashed when he decided to appear in the film, because I don’t know how he couldn’t have realised how lousy the script is!
TV sitcom scribes Jay Sherick and David Ronn do know how to pen smart-ass quips, but they apparently have no notion of storytelling and pacing. Even the premise makes little sense. So Perry plays Joe Tyler, a former lawyer who now works for a company that delivers court papers to individuals. He’s hired to serve divorce papers to a certain Sara Moore(Elizabeth Hurley), but when he does she offers him a million dollars to “unserve” her and serve divorce papers to her husband Gordon (Bruce Campbell) instead… For you see, apparently whoever officially files for divorce first will have the advantage in court, and since Sara’s husband owns 20 million dollar cattle ranches and don’t want her to take half of them… I’m sorry, I’m not even able to explain properly, because even the film couldn’t!
Anyway, this leads to Joe and Sara chasing Gordon across Texas, while being chased themselves by Tony (Vincent Pastore), another process server who’s trying to serve Sara first. But even if we pass over the silly premise, the movie remains irredeemably ill-conceived and idiotic. The characters are underwritten and inconsistent, if not utterly obnoxious. Joe and Tony’s boss, as played by Cedric the entertainer, is particularly insufferable. Not only does he have to spout boring exposition that doesn’t make sense, he has to be yelling it in stereotypical “black talk”.
And while Perry manages to be hilarious regardless (he rewrote a lot of his lines, according to an interview he gave “EW”), some of the comedy is miserably unfunny. I have nothing against making fun of Texas, but I’m not even sure that Sherick and Ronn have even been there at all, as they keep hitting the same tired targets over and over: cowboys hats, big haired bimbos, everyone carrying guns… And then it gets worse, with such contrived and dumb attempts at humor as a scene in which Joe and Sara try to escape Tony in an airport by going through the luggage conveyor or another where Joe is mistaken for a veterinarian and must manually stimulate a bull’s prostate to make it ejaculate. Or what about the artificial climax, which is set for no reason at all at a monster truck show? You really get the feeling that the screenplay was “thought” up on the spot.
The romance particularly feels like an after thought. After all, every time a man and a woman spend time together in a movie they have to hook up, right? But this isn’t set up at all, they just kiss at one point out of nowhere. In fact, Joe is a bit of sleaze, always ogling and hitting on all the girls and not paying much attention to Sara at all, except when she gets her pants ripped off. That’s not love, guys, this is lust.
“Serving Sara” could have been great fun, with its pairing of Perry and Hurley, the funniest and most gorgeous of the Austin Powers girls and the nice addition of cult actor Bruce Campbell, but bad direction, worse editing and a worthless script make it a forgettable diversion at best.