A fairly average light comedy (any movie with a supporting performance by "Evil Dead" star Bruce Campbell can't be all bad), "Serving Sara" gets a few laughs here and there from its fun concept, but doesn't manage to do a whole lot with the talents of its stars. The film stars Matthew Perry (TV's "Friends) as Joe, a a down-and-out process server whose latest job is to deliver divorce papers to Sara (Elizabeth Hurley), the wife of a rich, adulterous Texan husband, Gordon (Bruce Campbell).
When he and Sara eventually meet up in New York, she strikes a deal: she'll pay him a million dollars to turn the tables and serve her husband papers in Texas, in order for her to possibly get more money in the divorce proceedings. Gordon, not surprisingly, doesn't want to be served with papers and, of course, Sara and Joe eventually fall for one another during all the time they spend on the road. Both Joe's competition (Vincent Pastore) and Joe's boss (Cedric the Entertainer) close in as the hours pass.
The idea of Matthew Perry and Elizabeth Hurley together on a road picture isn't a half-bad idea, but the screenplay by Jay Scherick and David Ronn (the awful "I Spy" remake, which I found more painful to sit through) only occasionally hits the mark and when it does, it feels like either an accident or the result of improvising on the part of either Perry or Cedric the Entertainer. In the case of Perry, the actor's fine comedic timing at least wrestles some humor out of some of the less-amusing lines in the picture. Unfortunately, most of the film tries to get laughs out of Perry by having other characters repeatedly kick or hit him, and that kind of slapstick gets tiring.
The film's most lackluster aspect, surprisingly, is Hurley. While still as stunning as ever, she seems completely disinterested in the material, investing little effort in the character or dialogue (not that this is the greatest dialogue, but at least Perry puts a little energy forth). She and Perry pull some laughs out of a few scenes, but when this film turns romantic, the two really don't have much in the way of chemistry together. Campbell is wasted as the rich husband, as is Pastore as Joe's competition.
Technically, this is a visually plain picture, with nothing much going on in terms of visuals, production design or musical choices. "Serving Sara" passes by quickly, with only a couple of laughs scattered throughout. Given the talent involved and the servicable plot, a better screenplay could have really turned this into a good, entertaining romantic road movie. As is, it's just pretty mediocre.
VIDEO: "Serving Sara" is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen by Paramount. While there's little to the visuals of the comedy, Paramount's transfer is quite a fine effort, with little in the way of concerns. Sharpness and detail are quite fine, as the picture remains consistently crisp and well-defined, with most of the film boasting nice dine detail.
The only problem that really appeared on occasion was edge enhancement, but only in minor amounts. No pixelation was spotted and only a few slight specks were seen on the print used. The film's color palette usually seemed natural, but could also look a little flat at times. Still, a pretty good transfer.
SOUND: "Serving Sara" is presented by Dolby Digital 5.1. The comedy's soundtrack occasionally does offer a surround effect or two, but the majority of the film is dialogue-driven. Audio quality is perfectly adequate, as the occasional song offers solid bass, while dialogue and sound effects remained clear.
EXTRAS: "Serving Sara" includes a decent commentary from director Regenald Hudlin, who generally offers a low-key chat about what it was like working with the actors and some stories from the set. Slow at times and silent at others, the track is only so-so. A set of outtakes isn't half bad, as the first one offers some funny moments from Campbell. There are also some highlights in a couple of deleted and a few extended scenes, but nothing that would have really done anything in the film itself aside from add to the running time. Rounding out the supplements are a nearly 20-minute featurette and the film's theatrical trailer.
Final Thoughts: "Serving Sara" glides along, only hitting a good joke on occasion. With Perry and Hurley, more could have been done. Paramount's DVD edition offers fine audio/video quality and a nice set of supplements. Maybe a rental, at most, for fans of the actors.
The Film **