“Serendipity” is as cute and harmless as its star, John Cusack, who for an entire generation now has excelled at playing likable, ordinary guys.
This time, he’s Jonathan Trager, a Manhattan TV producer and hopeless romantic. When we first meet him, he and British gal Sara Thomas (Kate Beckinsale) are both lunging for the last pair of black gloves at Bloomingdale’s. As a compromise, she buys the gloves but then takes him to dinner at a little place called Serendipity.
They spend a wonderful evening together, during which time he doesn’t learn her name or anything about her. When it’s over and she must return to her boyfriend and he to his girlfriend, she continues to be evasive, claiming that if they are meant to meet again, Fate will see to it.
Well, Fate’s a jerk, and several years pass. Sara is engaged to flaky New Age musician Lars (John Corbett), and Jonathan is just about to marry a nice girl named Halley (Bridget Moynahan). But Jonathan and Sara still think about each other and begin last-ditch attempts to find one another before it’s too late.
This is another in a series of movies in which someone is about to marry one person while being destined for someone else. There’s only one way it can possibly end, so if there are to be any surprises, they will have to come in the journey, not the destination.
“Serendipity” is a pleasant film full of coincidences that make you smile. Jonathan’s best friend Dean (Jeremy Piven) is a factor in things, as is Sara’s confidante Eve (Molly Shannon), and Eugene Levy has a very funny cameo as a reluctantly helpful Bloomingdale’s salesman.
Director Peter Chelsom knows which buttons to push in a romantic comedy; were it not for the presence of non-threatening John Cusack (who is liked by men, too), this would be a straight-up Chick Flick. You have the plaintive guitar songs on the soundtrack, images of lovers ice-skating in New York, impetuous cross-country plane trips, and enough romantic gestures to gag Casanova. Fortunately, Cusack and Beckinsale play their roles close to reality and resist the temptation to go into full sap mode.
Couples on dates will find much to enjoy here. People not on dates are liable to wish they were, as “Serendipity” makes you feel like what you should really do is go out and fall in love.
B (; )