Directed by: Reginald Hudlin
Starring: Elizabeth Hurley, Matthew Perry, Bruce Campbell, Cedric The Entertainer
No, it's not quite in the realm of the cosmically God-awful, but Serving Sara has some pretty formidable competition for that accolade at the present time. Almost anything is going to have that lesser evil relief the week after you were Blue Crushed and Pluto Nashed.
On any other week, this low-octane effort at a laff-riot starring TV star Matthew Perry (Friends) and model/actress Elizabeth Hurley would scarcely rate a mention apart from reporting on the number of tumbleweeds blowing through the empty theatres graced with its company. As it is, it doesn't deserve a great deal more than a cursory glance.
The movie's trailer suggested the possibility of something relatively bright and breezy. Alas, it's pretty easy to make just about anything -- Dude, Where's My Car? to one side -- look bright and breezy for two and a half minutes. It's a lot harder to pull this off for an hour and a half -- and no one associated with this movie was up to the task.
The premise is really pretty good: a creatively unscrupulous process server (Perry) is offered $5,000 to serve divorce papers on a woman (Hurley), but when he does, she offers to pay him a million dollars if he'll instead serve her husband (Bruce Campbell). The idea is that she'll get a much better settlement if she makes the first move and if the divorce takes place in New York rather than her husband's home state of Texas.
If this seems like a "natural" for wild farce, it is -- or at least it was before TV writers turned screenwriters Jay Scherick and David Ronn got ahold of it, before director Reginald Hudlin (The Ladies' Man) flattened it out and made all the wrong decisions, and before Perry and Hurley proved that they just don't have what it takes to hold the big screen without a lot of help.
Scherick and Ronn (from whom we are soon to get the dismal looking big screen version of I Spy) have crafted a script that not only isn't even slightly original, but one that lifts gags from sources that are consistently underwhelming. For example, one of the film's big gags involves Perry having to pose as a vet and relieve the pressure from a stud bull's prostate, only to find himself...er...stuck up to his armpit in the suddenly libidonous beast.
Now where have we seen a gag like this before? Why, of course, it's Say It Isn't So by way of Freddie Got Fingered! If ever two films were less likely candidates for ripping off, I can't think of them (Pootie Tang notwithstanding).
Hudlin comes along and just makes it all that much worse by evidencing no sense of pacing or style or much of anything else. Perhaps since the Farrelly boys and the Weitz Brothers seem to have grown up with Shallow Hal and About a Boy respectively, Hudlin is the natural heir to the realm of the flat tastelessness. And whoever came up with the notion of having Elizabeth Hurley spend most of the film in a plaid skirt, a t-shirt festooned with the appellation of "Trailer Trash," and a cheesy patchwork faux fur jacket needs to be forcibly restrained from all further efforts at decision making more complex than whether or not to get out of bed.
Then there's the little matter of the stars, one of whom is at least easy on the eyes and one of whom doesn't even have that going for him. Since it seems unlikely they would light up the night-sky under any circumstances, you can't even blame it on the material, which at least works as a marginal excuse for supporting actors like Bruce Campbell and Cedric the Entertainer. Campbell -- best known as a cult figure -- has a naturally wry sense of humor, but it's nowhere in evidence here where he's saddled with a thankless, carboard bad guy role. Cedric the Entertainer, on the other hand, finds himself operating largely in a vaccuum to such a degree that he seems to have wandered in from another movie - and, believe me, wandering into another movie would be a wise choice for theatre patrons everywhere.