For a movie as formulaic as Serendipity, it is surprisingly amusing. This still does not make it a great movie per se, but enough of a distraction without the usual growing annoyance at the characters movies like these generate. Serendipity is a movie where the characters occupy themselves with fate. Years ago, Jonathan Trager and Sara Thomas met in a department store when they reached for the same pair of gloves. They proceed to spend the rest of the night with each other, getting to know each other better and realizing they are having an immensely good time. Both are in relationships, but Jonathan (John Cusack, America's Sweethearts, High Fidelity) wants Sara's (Kate Beckinsale, Pearl Harbor, The Golden Bowl) number just in case. Sara is the believer in fate. She proceeds with a number of tests to see if fate truly meant for them to be together. Although the tests fail, they still bump into each other again. This time, she has Jonathan write his name and number on a five-dollar bill, and she writes her name and number in a book she will sell to a used bookstore. If they should be together, each will find the other's number.
In the present, both are near the point of marriage, but still thinking about each other. In the typical romantic comedy manner, they both begin searching for each other, and director Peter Chelsom (Town & Country, The Mighty) has numerous almost meetings as they scour New York city with their respective friends. Since this is a romantic comedy, it means that screenwriter Marc Klein must construct a number of flimsy characters. This is especially true for their friends. Dean Kansky (Jeremy Piven, Rush Hour 2, The Family Man) is Jonathan's friend and is helping Jonathan look for Sara. He really has no purpose except to allow Jonathan to vocalize his thoughts. The same with Eve (Molly Shannon, Osmosis Jones, Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas), Sara's new age friend. The respective mates are even worse. Lars (John Corbett, Dinner Rush, Volcano) is Sara's long-term boyfriend. He plays in a new age band, and does not pay enough attention to Sara. So why does she stay with him? It's never explained. Jonathan's fiancee Halley (Bridget Moynahan, Coyote Ugly, Trifling With Fate) is worse. Klein does not know what to do with her so he puts her on screen for very little time. This way, the audience does not have time to sympathize with her, thereby making Jonathan seem like a jerk. Remember, the whole point is to want Sara and Jonathan to get together.
Yet, as contrived and predictable as everything in Serendipity is, it is still fun to watch. Jonathan and Sara are both genuinely good people, and they do struggle with the guilt associated with looking for a lost potential love in light of their current relationships. Klein's script also contains some nice jokes. Cusack and Beckinsale have a nice awkward chemistry together in the beginning, and everybody wants to see them together again to see how their relationship plays out. Cusack isn't really doing anything new with this role, but it is a good chance for (general) audiences to see Beckinsale in a role with a little more depth.
Chelsom's vision of New York is a beautiful, magical place, kind of like Autumn in New York a couple months later. The fake snow falls perfectly onto the stars' jackets, yet it never seems too cold. The over reliance on fate and superstition does wear thin, and it seems that the Sara character uses it mainly when the script requires her too. It cheapens the story and makes the characters seem a little more fake than they already are. Nevertheless, Serendipity is a nice movie to watch, smile, and then forget about.
|Haro Rates It: Okay.|
|1 hour, 25 minutes, Rated PG-13 for a scene of sexuality and for brief language.|
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