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Serendipity


Starring: John Cusack, Kate Beckinsale, Jeremy Piven, Molly Shannon and Eugene Levy.
Directed By: Peter Chelsom
Rated: PG-13

Serendipity means a happy accident. It's one of those fun words that brings a quick smile to most faces just on the sheer Dr. Seussness of its pronunciation. John (John- aging like an expensive wine-Cusack) and Sara (Kate "twinkle eyes" Beckinsale) are about to experience their own major truckload of serendipity.

The story starts as the two meet over a busy New York Bloomingdale's counter in the frenzy of holiday shopping. They have a friendly téte a téte over the last pair of black gloves each would like to buy...bingo bango...they are having an ice cream together.

Yeah, but too bad they are both dating and their hearts committed or they'd be going rabid Rhesus monkey on each other in a cozy Waldorf Hotel suite in the next scene. They decide to spend a monogamous evening giggling and testing their growing emotions in a playful way...until a snotty whining kinetic child spawn interrupts their fates.

They are separated and spend years apart wondering what might have, should have happened. Sniff.

John and Sara go on with their lives apart, but neither can seem to forget the other. As their lives are each about to take dramatic turns (near simultaneous marriages to others) they both start to wonder about what should have, would have, could have been-- of course with out the other's knowledge. The movie takes a sharp stupid turn about here...It's seven years or so later and they are still pining. That's just wrong.

So, with their best friends (Jeremy Piven and Molly Shannon) in tow, John and Sara try to make a real effort to push the hand of fate. Each just has to know if they were somehow destined to meet that first night - were they about to experience kismet when a child's annoying habits tore them apart? It's all very romantic, at first.

The near misses and serendipitous happenings are charming in the beginning. But these same cute close calls start to grate towards the end of the film. Enough already the audience telepathically projected towards the illuminated screen before them. Not one more near miss for the love of God! Not to mention the movie makers drop the ball on some scenes in the: Unfathomable Scenes 101 department...tell me Mr. Screenwriter how does one board a plane with no I.D. for starts?

Poor Molly Shannon, trying to shed her SNL persona, is proving to be a natural actress. Though her wild energy beams through her eyes waiting to lunge into a "Super Star" stance-- you can just tell. Here, she is given practically nadda to sink her teeth into. Molly plays the generic best friend to Beckinsale's generic lost soul gal in search of fate. I'd love to see her do an independent film and really stretch.

Eugene Levy, who is adored here at Blunt Review, plays a character right outta Second City. He's so good at Mr. Rude Generic Man it's scary. Brilliant man.

Kate Beckinsale is as stiff as she is beautiful; she needs to loosen up. Such a pretty sublime little flower, nay, orchid, hope she starts to blossom. When she did smile and give in to the magic story around her you, she whisked you off into "Believe In Me" land. But the boys, Cusack and Piven grab her spotlight each time they share the screen.

John Cusack is delightful. He's just getting smoother with each year that passes; yum-o-rama. Cusack is still on my top five list of men I'd like to prance around the faux velveteen bedspread with while the Gross Point Blank soundtrack is bellowing about us as we experiment with various whipping creams and tart ingredients. He's a big old slice of Chicago deep-dish pizza with all the crispy bad-for-you-but-who-can-resist-fixins'

Jeremy Piven, while he doesn't make the eyebrow rise in that ride 'im like a wild -banshee caught- in- a -leg- trap way, is a cutey all on his own. He stole the film. He's great with Cusack. Their long real-life friendship (find Elvis Stories may via eBay?) shines through all the flickering lights and celluloid. Kind of like Favreau and Vaughn just connect, it is that same energy here, and Piven's behind the voltage.

Bottom line: Serendipity is certainly no Sleepless in Seattle, in the romance department with its you're -so- happy-for-them- you- gotta-cry shindig, but, it's got it's cute moments. Moments delivered mostly between the on screen chemistry between Cusack and Piven. Beckinsale was beautiful as always, but needed some energy. The story is sweet and worth a girl's night out or a date movie trip. It's no classic but thanks to the cast they milk the faltering script for all it's worth and make it most palatable.

Sadly, it's the last twenty five minutes of completely unbelievable scenarios and actions— even for romantic fantasy— that ripped the other "star" from Serendipity's rating, threw it on the ground and jumped around viscously on it till there was no chance of resuscitation.

Snack Recommendation: Ice cream sundaes for two...

 

 

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