2002, PG-13, 100 min. Directed by Reginald Hudlin. Starring Cedric The Entertainer, Robert Pastore, Bruce Campbell, Elizabeth Hurley, Matthew Perry.
REVIEWED By Steve Davis, Fri., Aug. 30, 2002
Sometimes, movies are so bad that they achieve a perverse artistry in their own right -- Mommy Dearest, Showgirls, Plan 9 From Outer Space, The Lonely Lady, and any movie Joan Crawford made after 1950 instantly come to mind as falling within the pantheon of bad movies we love. Call them camp, call them kitsch, they deliriously follow the beat of their own misguided drummers. And then there are movies that are blandly bad, movies that leave you numb to the experience. They're the cinematic version of Novocain; even as you're getting out of your theatre seat, you've already forgotten them. Serving Sara is that kind of bad movie. Its sole purpose appears to be to give Perry something to occupy his time during the yearly hiatus from Friends. Perhaps he should have taken a vacation instead; looking puffy and tired, it's no surprise that he checked himself into rehab midway during the shooting of the film. The 10-second pitch that undoubtedly sealed the deal for Perry -- a trophy wife convinces a down-on-his-luck process server to serve divorce papers on her husband first, so that she can protect her share of marital assets -- is not only legally, ethically, and practically problematic, it's hardly the stuff of a romantic comedy, particularly when the two leads have all the chemistry of a glass of Alka-Seltzer. Between Perry's haggard appearance and Hurley's drop-dead-gorgeous banality, these two could have acted in two separate movies and generated the same amount of spark as they do here. The unfunny one-liners rarely rise above the gist of “Eat me,” which maintains the quality of the humor here at a seventh-grade level, except for those references requiring a knowledge of famous soothsayers and Latin actors from the 1940s (e.g., “Thanks for the prediction, Nostradumbass” and a reference to one character as “Retardo Montalban”). Of course, there is the scene in which Perry massages the prostate of a bull humping a life-size polyurethane cow, but hey, you'll have to see the movie yourself to judge whether it's funny or not. In addition to the fat jokes, the wop jokes, and watching Perry badly impersonate Sylvester Stallone and Al Pacino in Scarface, Serving Sara requires those of us in the Lone Star State to endure a lot of Texas-bashing, which just ain't right, is it? Even the shots of familiar Texas terrain aren't enough for any true Texan to forgive the movie's depictions of the state's citizens as gun-totin' nuts who like a good monster-truck rally (unless, of course, you are a gun-totin' nut who likes a good monster-truck rally). And then there's all of that stuff played for laughs about lax airport security and viral scares that just isn't funny in these post-9/11 times. From start to finish, Serving Sara is as lackluster as they come. It's the kind of bad movie that gives bad movies a bad name.