SERVING SARA - DVD review

The presence of the incredibly attractive Elizabeth Hurley is not reason enough to see this movie.

 
Eddie
Feng

My senior-year college roommate has a sister who lives in New York City. While out clubbing one night, she met model/actress Elizabeth Hurley, one-time girlfriend of Hugh Grant. Hurley and my roomie's sister chatted throughout the evening, and what impressed my roomie's sister the most was that Ms. Hurley really seemed like a normal person (albeit with a cool British ahk-sent). I tell you, while I wasn't there, that close encounter with Ms. Hurley must've been 10 times more exciting than "Serving Sara", a flat comedy that elicited literally one laugh from me during its 99 minutes of uninspired idiocy.

In "Serving Sara", Joe Tyler (Matthew Perry, TV's "Friends") is a process server assigned to deliver divorce papers to Sara Moore (Elizabeth Hurley). Because of specific state laws that govern the rules of serving process as well as divorce proceedings, Sara stands to lose everything, not even getting the "50%" that most people think is the norm in divorces. Therefore, Sara strikes a deal with Joe--if he helps her serve Gordon Moore (Bruce Campbell, "Army of Darkness"), then she'll pay him $1 million. Thus begins a bunch of chases, from New York City to everywhere in Texas. Joe and Sara try to "tag" Gordon, while another process server tries to "tag" Sara first.

To tell you the truth, I didn't really care who got "tagged". I didn't care for any of the characters--not because they're unlikable but because the script doesn't give them any dimensions. There are broad jokes (didn't you know that everybody in Texas carries a gun?), physical gags and pratfalls (massaging a bull's prostate), ungainful uses of stereotyping (Perry affects various accents for no good reason), misogynistic opportunities to ogle women, and mean-spirited cut-downs that no one will think are witty. Matthew Perry (who checked himself into rehab during production) basically plays the "loser" version of Chandler Bing (his "Friends" character), and Elizabeth Hurley--so full of comic timing in "Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery"--is wasted in a role that demands her to do nothing more than to be eye candy.

The two best performances in the movie are by Cedric the Entertainer ("The Barbershop") as Joe's harried boss and by Amy Adams (Leo's sweet fiancée in "Catch Me If You Can") as a Southern tart having an affair with Gordon. Cedric and Adams provide a lot of color, humor, and personality in an otherwise dreadful movie. They probably should've played the leads in "Serving Sara".

There's not really much to say about the movie except that it is basically devoid of laughs. "Serving Sara" doesn't aim very high, but it falls quite short of its low mark. There are times when it wants to be realistic, but the next minute brings a swing into the implausible. While the work on display is competent, you don't get a sense that any of the filmmakers has an ounce of pizzazz in them judging from the way the movie proceeds from one plot point to the next as if ticking off a checklist.

Finally, the script sees fit to pair Joe and Sara together. Considering that she's emotionally fragile given her impending divorce and considering that he's a big-time loser, how feasible is it to think that Joe and Sara are going to last as a couple? Since each has gained a bit of knowledge concerning divorce law during their ordeal, you just know that they're going to serve each other papers one day personally. Now THAT would make a decent comedy.

Video:
I think that the industry has reached the point where every newly-made movie arrives on DVD looking like a carefully waxed luxury vehicle. The 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen image of "Serving Sara" does not appear to have any source-print defects or compression artifacts. Colors are vivid and nicely rendered (no bleeding). The only thing keeping me from rating the video a "10" is the fact that it looks a bit flat (whereas the best prints have the illusion of depth to them).

Audio:
The Dolby Digital 5.1 English must have been the best part of my watching this DVD. There is a lot of deep end in the sound mix, but it's never overpowering. The rear speakers carry a lot of music loads, and there are plenty of vehicles rushing across the front speakers. Dialogue is presented very cleanly.

The disc also has DD 2.0 surround English and DD 2.0 surround French tracks. English subtitles as well as English closed captions support the audio.

Extras:
The back cover art of the DVD keepcase seems to promise a collection of decent supplements, but bonus materials can be only as good as the main feature. Therefore, you won't get much out of the audio commentary by director Reginald Hudlin. "Serving Sara" is a bad movie, but Hudlin talks about it as if he made a good film. The commentary would have been much more interesting than it is now had someone spoken about how NOT to make a movie. There's a 20-minute behind-the-scenes featurette that showcases filmmakers talking about how wonderful everyone else is. Also, there are 3 outtakes, 2 deleted scenes, 3 extended/alternate scenes, and a theatrical trailer--none of which are funny or enjoyable.

--Miscellaneous--
A glossy insert provides chapter listings.

Film Value:
From a technical standpoint, the DVD boasts tremendous production values. It offers a nearly-flawless video transfer, and the audio is surprisingly aggressive and enveloping for what is essentially a small-scale endeavor. However, "Serving Sara" is a dull, unfunny, un-involving, and emotionally infantile film. The presence of the incredibly attractive Elizabeth Hurley is not reason enough to see this movie.

Ratings

Video
9
Audio
8
Extras
3
Film Value
4