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If someone told me a couple of years ago that people were making a movie about a process server I would’ve had two questions; what the hell is a process server and why would anyone want to make a movie about them? After watching Serving Sara not much has changed, though I wasn’t surprised when I found it was a lightweight comedy starring the likes of Matthew Perry and Elizabeth Hurley.

But a process server? Strange choice, that’s for sure.

Serving Sara

Movie
Perry stars as Joe Tyler, a process server who used to be the pick of the bunch but is now struggling to keep the pace with his company rival, Tony (Vincent Pastore). For those like me who have no idea what a process server does, basically these people must personally deliver papers (such as divorce papers) to the desired mark and record the delivery with a Polaroid.

Joe’s latest mark is a soon-to-be-divorcee named Sara Moore (Hurley), whose billionaire husband Gordon has had enough (stupid fool). But Joe’s rival decides to sabotage his plans, tipping Sara off just before Joe is due to arrive. Cut to a chase sequence across town culminating with Sara giving Joe the slip. But he finally catches up with Sara and informs her of the impending divorce. Not one to take things lying down, Sara makes a proposal to Joe; turn on her husband and serve him instead and he can take a share of the eventual divorce settlement.

Having ‘flipped his mark’, Joe must seek out Gordon with Sara in tow, dealing with Gordon’s minders, a determined Joe who is trying to serve Sara before Joe serves Gordon and a host of other problems that get in their way. Sound complicated? It’s not really, so part of the effect is lost because it wouldn’t really be that hard to catch someone and give them a few papers in person.

The opening sequence is meant to set up a lot of things but ultimately falls flat because it’s not at all amusing. Those in charge have tried to play to the strengths of Matthew Perry but have included little else to help him along. Thankfully the inclusion of Elizabeth Hurley (not a moment too soon) picks things up a bit and helps the action move at a swift enough pace to keep us interested. The laughs aren’t exactly classics and there aren’t any showcase sequences usually afforded bigger budget comedies, but as an innocent little piece of fluff the film somehow works. Then again, that’s not exactly a compliment as the comedy genre hasn’t been re-invented like most of the others, so Serving Sara only seems to blend in.

The believability factor is dodged somewhat by the audience not really knowing what the hell a process server actually does, which is a clever move by the writers so that they can continually change the setting and plot direction to their liking. We still know where this is all headed so it’s lucky Perry and Hurley have enough screen presence between them to keep us interested throughout the relatively short running time. It’s too bad the criminally underused Amy Adams’, as Gordon’s mistress, doesn’t occupy more screen time because she’s definitely a talented lass, albeit playing another version of her ‘Southern Belle’ persona from 1999’s Drop Dead Gorgeous.

Serving Sara

So overall there is enough value as can be expected from another film in a long line of run-of-the-mill comedies coming out of Hollywood. Perry does the goofy, embarrassed, poor-man’s Hugh Grant quite well, while Hurley’s sex appeal is exploited with moderate effect. Throw in the brilliant Amy Adams and the B-grade version of Bernie Mac, Cedric the Entertainer as Joe’s boss and you’ve really got a mixed bag in this one. Same goes for the film, with probably too many flat spots to stand out and not enough classic laughs to push it beyond average territory.

Video
Evidence of this transfer being quite impressive can be found in Cedric the Entertainer’s suit near the start of the film. The 1.85:1 visuals bring out the vibrant colours yet still retain enough sharpness to suffice. The print is relatively clean save for a few blemishes here and there, while the black levels don’t need to be all that deep considering there are precious few scenes played out at night. In all, the transfer won’t set the world on fire but it’s still another winner from the folks at Roadshow.

Audio
The one remarkable aspect of the whole film is quite possibly the playful little score, helmed by a man named Marcus Miller (Lethal Weapon 4, The Ladies Man). The main ditty is a simple yet cute piece that fits in well with the subject matter. The rest of the score evolves as the characters go from location to location. In terms of the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack the score sounds pretty good, using the full range of speakers to pump out the music (which also includes contemporary tracks such as American Woman).

The surround and subwoofer usage for the rest of the soundtrack is pretty minimal, with the dialogue sitting firmly in the front stage and the ambient effects only popping in and out occasionally during the film. But for a comedy this soundtrack is still quite good thanks to the great little score.

Serving Sara

Extras
A small extras package has been assembled for those wanting a little bit more after watching the film, starting with an audio commentary with Director Reginald Hudlin. Hudlin is a little indulgent in his commentary but does provide enough insight into various aspects of the production, including the lack of coverage when Liz Hurley lifts up her top, how they made the cow poo out of chocolate and where they got the ‘trailer trash’ costume from for the middle of the film. A bit too much praise and a few too many silences to be really worth a listen, one would think.

The next extra is a couple of deleted scenes, one where Joe enlists the help of a police officer, played by Jerry Stiller, and another where Tony asks Gordon’s bodyguard for directions. The quality is pretty average and the running time is quite short in total but they’re still worth a look. One thing to note is that the commentary (with Hudlin again) is only heard on the first of the two scenes, and even that isn’t all that groundbreaking in terms of the information imparted.

Next up is the section with extended alternate scenes. Hudlin’s commentary is a little more explanatory with these clips, dealing with Joe getting knocked around a little more than in the final cut, Gordon talking to a bunch of potential Japanese investors and more of the bodyguard’s interrogation of an office clerk suspected of stealing a stapler. It’s good to see the longer version of a few of the scenes, with the pieces cut mainly due to time constraints.

Also included is a featurette entitled A Look Inside The Process. Director Hudlin talks about how he became involved in the project and what happened after he was signed up. We are also privy to interviews with all the key cast members, who enjoy patting each other on the back as much as possible. There is a fair amount of footage from the film which tends to pad out this otherwise small featurette, but it’s slightly above the ‘extended trailer’ kind of piece we’ve all become familiar with.

Rounding out the collection of extras the theatrical trailer and an outtakes section, which is possibly the most disappointing piece of the bunch. We witness some of Gordon’s extended antics, a rather plump lady riding a mechanical bull for two minutes and Vincent Pastore ad-libbing during the plane scene. These really could’ve been lumped with the deleted and extended scenes, so as a result the extras section looks incredibly padded out. One can’t help but think they’ve tried to make the supplements look more appealing than they really are.

Serving Sara

Overall
It’s not brain surgery and nor should it be, but Serving Sara doesn’t give us anything new to work with save for a small amount of chemistry between Perry and Hurley throughout the film. A film about a process server was perhaps a strange choice and one could still come out the other end not really understanding the profession at all. The disc itself is slightly above average thanks to a decent visual transfer and a catchy main theme, even though the extras leave a lot to be desired. If fluff is your thing, look no further, otherwise you might want to give this one a miss.


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