Friday, June 3, 2011

Worst of the Worst: #62, Serving Sara

This movie brings up a question I have about a profession I know very little about. Serving Sara is about a process server. I've seen on TV the usual bit about process servers where they walk up to someone, ask the person their name to confirm identity, and then give the person the papers. I have no reason not to believe this is how it works in real life. Sometimes, the process server has to pretend to be someone else to get close to the target. That seems a bit fishy, but I guess it could happen. I just assume that most process servers are straightforward and, perhaps, fairly apathetic, like Seth Rogen in Pineapple Express. In Serving Sara, however, the process servers do all kinds of wacky tricks to track their person down because everyone seems to know that papers are coming and don't want them. One of the characters even explains this in the beginning by saying something along the lines of, "Being served papers is never a good thing." But does it really get so wacky that it turns into a spy-like thing? Or that the people being served try even wackier things to evade the papers like constantly pretending to be other people or even hiding in the middle of monster truck rallies?

So, you can see how I was already a little put upon by the ins and outs of the process serving industry, as depicted in this movie, but there's not much else in the film to recommend it. First off -- let's get the elephant out of the room -- Serving Sara was written by the team that wrote Norbit and the upcoming The Zookeeper (slapstick comedy with animals talking to Kevin James). There's all you need to know about the script. The director is not as poor in the resume department, but his work here left me annoyed. So many of the scenes involve people talking to each other with close-ups as each character delivers their lines. The cuts back and forth and the close-ups kill any kind of chemistry the actors may have had. Of course, they had none, so it just left me to be annoyed with how choppy it felt.

The actors themselves are the "stars" of the awfulness in this movie. Elizabeth Hurley as the love interest just can not act. Fine straight person for Mike Myers, bad romantic comedy lead. Vinny Pastore is just not meant to be in comedies (or, frankly, play any role other than Big Pussy). Bruce Campbell is the king of cult films, but his style does not fit with a mainstream romantic comedy. Cedric the Entertainer has appeared on this list of bad movies a number of times and, while he doesn't have tons of screen time, his acting in this is about as bad as he's been in any of the other movies. His role strikes me as a desperate attempt someone made to add any kind of last-second humor into what they knew would be a desperately unfunny movie (this move was done most egregiously with the obviously added scenes of Wanda Sykes in Evan Almighty, which I can't believe didn't make this list). That brings us to the lead actor, Matthew Perry.

I'm not a Matthew Perry fan. In fact, I don't like any of the Friends actors except for Matt LeBlanc in Episodes and Lisa Kudrow in a very few roles. Perry is just way too smug for me and he's very smug in this movie, but he has a bigger problem. During the filming of Serving Sara, Perry had to take a break because he went to rehab for a painkiller addiction. And it is obvious that he had the problem when you watch the movie. The Matthew Perry of Serving Sara is the bloated, disinterested, rough-looking Matthew Perry of the tabloids. He just looks strung out. So no matter that his lines are written poorly or that the big oh-please-won't-you-please-laugh-at-our-movie scene involves him with his arm up a bull's ass while it has sex with a mechanical cow, Perry is unfunny because you're uneasy watching him. That was enough for me to dislike the movie.

But it didn't end there! The only thing worse than watching a bad movie with bad acting is when someone you like shows up and you just feel sorry for them and dirty for watching them debase themselves in a piece of garbage. That happened with The New Kid and Zooey Deschanel and it happened with Bless The Child with Jimmy Smits, but nothing tops Serving Sara because it wasn't just someone I like it was one of the most talented actors, period. Sure enough, Matthew Perry tries to find Bruce Campbell's mistress at one point and we discover that she is played by none other than Amy Adams. Let that sink in for a second. You're watching a movie that stars Matthew Perry, Elizabeth Hurley, Cedric the Entertainer, and Vincent Pastore, and here comes Amy Adams. Sure, it was her first big studio movie, so when people originally watched it, she was just some random chick, but I didn't watch it in 2002 (when I had better sense, apparently). No, I had to watch it after Adams had established herself as acting gold. It just made me feel dirty.

So the writing was bad, the direction was annoying, the acting was atrocious, and I felt uneasy. Good times! Like many movies on this list, though, the one thing stopping it from being truly horrendous was that it just got boring. It wasn't offensively bad throughout. By the end, I was staring at the clock, wondering why they hadn't wrapped up the plot yet, when I knew there were only seventeen or so minutes left. And then it was blessedly over! Eighty-nine movies down, eleven to go, and this one not a moment too soon.

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