Eric D. Snider

Serving Sara

The humor in "Serving Sara" is desperate, sad and pitiable. The screenplay, by sitcom hacks Jay Scherick and David Ronn, sets it up so that everyone the main character meets is overweight. Why? So he can make fat jokes.

"Kiss my (butt)!" his rival yells.

"My mouth's not big enough!" is the retort.

Yes, that is representative of how embarrassingly tawdry and unfunny this train wreck, directed by Reginald Hudlin, is.

The aforementioned main character, a Manhattan process server named Joe Tyler (Matthew Perry), is also one of those movie types who continue to make wise-acre comments even while being beaten, chased or shot at. These people do not exist in real life -- in real life, even comedians shut up when in mortal danger -- but that does not stop by screenwriters from creating them. (See also: Chris Rock in "Bad Company" and Jamie Foxx in "Bait.")

Joe has to serve divorce papers to Sara Moore (Elizabeth Hurley), a Texas tycoon's (Bruce Campbell) trophy wife. To get revenge, she offers Joe $1 million if he will say he has not served the papers after all, and then serve divorce papers to her husband instead. Since she will have filed first, the legal proceedings will most likely go in her favor.

Joe's rival is Tony (Vincent Pastore), who is trying to serve Sara before Joe does, and whom Joe keeps sending on wild-goose chases as a means of padding out the film's running time.

Oh, and speaking of padding, there are TWO scenes of Joe and Sara developing the obligatory romantic bonds in hotel rooms, and an extended sequence at a monster truck rally where not a single thing occurs that would ever, ever occur in real life.

And then there is "Serving Sara's" piece de resistence, its tour de force, its "Ben Hur" chariot-race scene, its "Psycho" shower scene. Joe and Sara are sneaking around a cattle ranch when a man pops out of a barn and says, "Boy, am I glad to see you two!" Then he rushes them into the barn, because he has mistaken them for veterinarians. Joe and Sara, not wanting to reveal they are outsiders who are snooping around, have no choice but to pretend to be veterinarians. (I recall this sort of thing happening a lot to Elmer Fudd, too.)

What is required of the kindly vet today, you ask? Well, some cows are in need of being inseminated, but darned if the stud-service bull hasn't gone impotent! To help the problem, Matthew Perry has to shove his arm aaaall the way up the bull's rear end.

If you are a friend of mine and still want to see "Serving Sara," please be aware our friendship will be terminated.

Lame, limp, unappealing, incompetent, clueless -- these are the kindest words I can come up with to describe this film. Every now and then, Perry's "Friends" character, Chandler, shines through. And if chuckling two or three times is enough to make an otherwise worthless movie worthwhile to you, then I salute you. It must be nice to have that much extra time and money lying around.

Grade: F

Rated PG-13, a lot of profanity, some gross sexual humor and bodily-function jokes, slapstick violence

1 hr., 40 min.

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