Serving Sara would have you believe that the life of a Process Server is fairly akin to that of a gun-for-hire bounty hunter. Joe Tyler (Matthew Perry) certainly looks the part. Dressed in killer black garb with tough guy spiky hair, Mathew Perry sarcastically bumbles his way across the Texas landscape. Having thrown away his integrity, he’s latched on to Sara (Elizabeth Hurley), a soon to be divorced heiress whose future alimony payments depend on her serving her good ole’ boy husband with divorce papers before he can serve her. The legalities of this are rather muddied and doubtless have no basis in fact. Still, Serving Sara wraps itself around these technicalities quite nicely as a convenient excuse to thrust Perry into all sorts of mildy awkward and sexually charged situations as a fish out of water in the strange and monster-truck ridden land of modern-day Texas.
It’s a little bit sad really. To me, Matthew Perry is easily the most talented and naturally funny cast member attempting to forge a career outside of Friends. He possesses a wonderfully biting wit, complete with sharp tongued, beautifully sarcastic humor. He’s played the role of comedic lead quite admirably in the past, proving himself solidly with Salma Hayek in the romantic comedy When Fools Rush In. However now, whether due to his well-known problems with drug addiction, or just plain bad luck, he’s quickly on his way to burying himself underneath a pile of chokingly bad work. To this, Serving Sara is no exception.
Perry’s timing is spot on, his humor sharp and trademark sarcastic, but the film is weak, the story ridiculous, and the acting displayed by everyone else in it so far below sub-par that I’m not even sure I can really properly define it. Somewhere down below that sub-par watermark is female lead Elizabeth Hurley, who apparently still hasn’t figured out she can’t act. What she can do however is smirk. Actually she smirks a lot. Really she smirks in every single scene of the film, especially when it’s totally inappropriate. Her character’s life has totally fallen apart, she’s supposed to be sitting in a public bathroom-stall balling her eyes out… but there’s Liz Hurley, feigning tears and trying her best not to burst out laughing at the whole freaking thing. Bad enough that the woman can’t act, but the incessant smirking continually distracts me from the only thing she really does have going for her, her looks.
The real surprise though, isn’t Liz Hurley’s bad acting, nor is it the film’s pointless insistence on portraying its locations as ridiculous, honkey-talk inspired cliches. No, the real surprise is the miserable work of cult favorite Bruce Campbell, as Sara’s redneck, filthy rich, ranch lovin, boot wearin, Texas husband. Forget for a moment how bad the man’s thick Texas accent is (and trust me, I live in Dallas, it’s bad), because even without it he adds nothing of value to the cowboy character he’s been given. Generally speaking, Bruce is a delight, even in the most horrible of roles… and in his career there’s been a lot of them. But in this case, even the B-movie king himself can’t find something worthwhile in Serving Sara.
Serving Sara isn’t a total wash. There are a few decent chuckles involving shrinking sheep and cow prostates. Really though, what kind of person finds the work of a Process Server entertaining, even when said Process Server believes he’s a Quentin Tarantino hit man? Perry’s biting and bitter sarcasm helps fill the gaping holes left in the script by the studio weasels that digested it. His ability to do that though, only reminds me how sad it is that a talented guy like him seems doomed to end up in wasteful movies like this. I don’t care how Hurley is, both Perry and you deserve better.