Ouch, sorry

I can save you a lot of time by reducing Saving Sara to its opening and closing lines:

"I hate my job."

"You want to have sex again?"

Really, as with so much contemporary comedic cinema, that's about all you have to know - our hero starts out unhappy and ends up being asked for sex while on the porch at his new vinyard in Napa Valley at the end. Perhaps in a better movie that would qualify as a spoiler, but Serving Sara is so routine, so threadbare of imagination that you know within five minutes exactly what to expect.

I am somewhat fascinated by Matthew Perry as a film actor. Perhaps that's a little strange to begin with, as the machine that keeps trying to turn the cast of "Friends" into film stars keeps churning. Perhaps the thing is that Perry comes off as a reasonably likeable good guy who is suffering under the circumstances of his life.

So while I concede this is a bad movie, I find it at least interesting, careerwise, that Perry is trying to play an "edgy" character - that is, someone with some attitude and rancor rather than the well-meaning coward who wants everyone to get along that we usually see. This edge for the most part drops out after the first act, though, except for the occasional scene to remind us that he's not this unconfident person we seem to remember. Maybe Perry is too typecast, or too used to playing Chandler Bing, to really break out as a different character. I think he should go further. But I'm not reviewing Matthew Perry here - it's Serving Sara that's in question.

The main problem is the script pretends to be feeding us an interesting narrative but keeps failing to deliver. Either that or the film was cut so drastically that we only have jokes and chase scenes left, with just a bit of dialog to keep things going. I almost don't want to dismiss that as a possibility - there are plenty of little tidbits dropped along the way that could have been followed up on: Perry's character used to be a lawyer, there's a ranch (which figures prominently) in Texas that's going to be sold to a Japanese business. If this film is going to be about gags and chases, it shouldn't pretend to this other stuff - it just messes with our expectations. A gag and chase movie probably won't be great, but it would probably be better than this because it's being honest.

We've got Elizabeth Hurley alongside Perry here. She does alright, but suffers from not having much beyond the obvious to say. It's good to see Vincent Pastore, though they play the work-rivalry business between him and Perry so strongly it falls flat - saying less would have meant more. Also, Bruce Campbell as a Texan, which is a pretty natural fit for him, but likewise he's a tool of the overt plot and nothing more. Cedric the Entertainer, as Perry and Pastore's boss is a lot of fun to watch, but they gave him such drivel to speak, I don't know how he could have stomached saying the words at times.

Serving Sara isn't horrifically bad - there's some funny bits, general cohesiveness, and... well maybe you can find something else. The fact that I've not mentioned the actual plot should reveal how meaningless it really is. Maybe I've just seen one too many movies that took the easy way out, that looked like a first draft that was given notes that only resulted in things subtracted, nothing added.

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