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Serving Sara (August 22/02)

You know you're in trouble when what's supposedly the worst flick of the year (last week's The Adventures of Pluto Nash) is far, far better than the movie you're watching. Serving Sara, the new comedy starring Matthew Perry and Elizabeth Hurley, is not only devoid of laughs but manages to make the usually funny Perry completely unfunny.

Perry stars as Joe, a miserable process server who works for a sleazy outfit run by an even sleazier man (Cedric the Entertainer). His latest job seems simple enough, serve divorce papers to the trophy wife of a rich Texan, but Joe hits a bit of a snag when he receives an unusual offer from said trophy wife. Sara (Hurley) tempts Joe with a promise of a million dollars if he'll serve her husband first, thus entitling her to half of his estate. Wackiness ensues as the two head off on an idiotic road trip, filled to the brim with tired set pieces and dull dialogue.

For a so-called comedy, Serving Sara is hopelessly devoid of laughs. It's always a bad sign when the trailer, the hook meant to entice viewers, doesn't contain a single humorous moment. Evidently, the filmmakers seem to think the very idea of Perry ramming his entire arm up the rear end of a bull is just rife with hilarious possibilities. As bad as that sequence was in the preview, it's even worse in the actual film. Director Reginald Hudlin milks the bit for all it's worth, which isn't much. And Perry experiences the nadir of his short career right before our very eyes.

Just about the only bright spot in the film is Bruce Campbell's performance as Sara's wayward husband. Campbell, a legendary B-movie actor, goes for the gusto with his performance as a stereotypical good ol' boy (he's never without his cowboy hat and boots). He's clearly having a lot of fun with this role, and it's always a pleasure to see Campbell on the big screen. On the flip side of that coin is Cedric the Entertainer playing Perry's boss. He gives what just might be the worst performance of the year (and no, I'm not forgetting A Walk to Remember's Mandy Moore). He overacts his way through every single scene, mugging and grinning like an idiot. Supposedly he's a talented comedian (he was one of the Kings of Comedy), but if this is any indication, he's got about as much talent as a beetle corpse.

Serving Sara is a complete and utter disaster. Matthew Perry, an otherwise engaging and talented performer, needs to seriously re-evaluate his goals with regards to his film career and fast. It's pretty sad to think that, in the same week his Friends co-star Jennifer Aniston is receiving oodles of kudos for her work in The Good Girl, Perry is stuck in this awful comedy. Take a pass on Serving Sara and watch a Friends rerun instead.

out of