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Paramount Studios presents
Serving Sara (2002)

Kate: You must be Sara.
Sara: And you must be banging my husband.

- Amy Adams, Elizabeth Hurley

Review By: Kevin Clemons   
Published: February 11, 2003

Stars: Matthew Perry, Elizabeth Hurley
Other Stars: Bruce Campbell, Cedric The Entertainer, Vincent Pastore, Amy Adams
Director: Reginald Hudlin

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for crude humor, sexual content, language
Run Time: 01h:39m:14s
Release Date: January 28, 2003
UPC: 097363399148
Genre: comedy

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
D+ D-B+B B

DVD Review

Serving Sara is essentially a sitcom-like idea stretched to its limits, and in a way this is fitting given its star. For lead actor Matthew Perry, Serving Sara provides a chance to prove that he can play his television alter ego in yet another big screen comedy. It is a role that Perry plays well, and given his often golden ability to use his delivery to make anything remotely funny, it may well be the reason that I found Serving Sara to be, for the most part, tolerable.

The premise of Serving Sara is a shell in which situations designed to humiliate those involved are tied together. Perry plays Joe Tyler, a process server who is very good at what he does. By sneaking up on unsuspecting marks and serving them with court papers he is afforded the opportunity to be devious and sarcastic, two things he apparently loves to be. His latest mark is Sara (Hurley), a beautiful English woman who is being divorced by Gordon (Campbell), an adulterating Texas businessman. The central plot point is Sara's brokering of a deal with Joe that will entitle the pair to loads of money if only they can serve Gordon in Texas. The reason for this involves numerous laws that the script never really explains save for a few throwaway lines. Along the way, the twosome will be matched by Joe's interoffice rival Tony (Pastore) as well as the berating Ray (Cedric the Entertainer), who is Joe's flamboyant boss.

Too much here is a sort of incoherent mess, one that jumps from scene to scene with no real energy or focus. While little of the blame can be saddled upon the stars—each of whom do their best to make the dialogue sound somewhat respectable—the script by Jay Scherick and David Ronn seems comfortable offering the characters numerous locations and crazy situations, but lacks the heart needed to make the journey enjoyable.

Reginald Hudlin (who made a highly underrated comedy with The Great White Hype) does little to correct the problems created by the script with his lifeless direction. The films strangest—and most unnecessary—gag involves Joe being mistaken for a veterinarian who is on site to administer manual help for cattle insemination. The way in which the scene is filmed makes it play like a joke without a punch line. So much is offered in the buildup, particularly in Perry's facial expressions, that the end result plays as a colossal letdown as we see the expression of the animal and not Perry.

Perhaps the sequence is the perfect poster child for what is wrong with Serving Sara. It is a film steeped in setups and promises with no real delivery.

Rating for Style: D+
Rating for Substance: D-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer for is far from the best on the market, but it is certainly in line with what I would expect from a recent release. Sharpness and detail are each of high quality with many of the establishing location shots (Miami, New York and a vineyard at the close of the film) look picturesque. I noticed some print flaws as well as mild edge enhancement, but they are so small and isolated that they never distract from the image as a whole.

Image Transfer Grade: B+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: For a comedy, the Dolby Digital 5.1 mix does go above its trappings with its use of the rear speakers as well as a few instances where the .1 LFE track offers some nice added depth. Dialogue is clean and crisp with no distortion to speak of, while the left and right speakers back up the mix with a good reproduction of the score. The rear speaker, as mentioned above, offer more than just ambience as gunshots, panning effects, as well as the musical score come across nicely.

Audio Transfer Grade: B


Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 17 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
5 Deleted Scenes
1 Documentaries
1 Feature/Episode commentary by director Reginald Hudlin
Packaging: Alpha
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL

Extra Extras:
  1. Outtakes
Extras Review: Though not labeled a "Special Collectors Edition," Serving Sara actually offers more in the way of extra features than some Paramount titles bestowed the moniker. Leading things off is a commentary track by director Reginald Hudlin that is funny, if a bit slow and silent in parts. Hudlin does nothing more than point out little behind-the-scenes secrets about what was improvised and what was happening the day that the scene was shot, but not much more than that.

A twenty-minute documentary, Serving Sara: A Look Inside the Process is overly promotional as it features cast and crew falling over each other to praise those involved in the project. The running length is a bit longer than other "making of" pieces, but what is here is not enough to justify the added time.

A series of outtakes, deleted and extended scenes are included with commentary, but those looking for buried treasures will do better looking someplace else. The outtakes section offers really nothing more than a few slight laughs as well as some unnecessarily cheap gags. This, on the other hand, is a chance to see more Bruce Campbell, something that is very welcome. The deleted and extended scenes features a total of five clips that provide no new information about the plot or the characters but are mildly funny in their own right.

Finally, the theatrical trailer is available in 1.85:1 nonanamorphic widescreen with Dolby Digital 5.1 sound and is quite good as it makes the film look very funny.

Extras Grade: B


Final Comments

I'll eschew calling Serving Sara the worst film of the year for the simple reason that I admired the performance by Matthew Perry. Plus, any movie with Bruce Campbell earns points for simply propelling the legendary cult actor a little further into the spotlight he so deserves.


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