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Movie Review

Think about the life of a private detective for a moment. Tedious stakeouts. Poor pay. Angry people who want to use your head as a soccer ball. Now, wipe away whatever crust of glory might have accumulated on the profession and what are you left with? A process server, someone who has to deliver legal documents so people can have their day in court. Joe Tyler is one such process server and he’s not fond of his job. People rarely want to stand before a judge and it’s Joe’s job to chase them down. Add to that his verbally abusive boss, Ray, and his loutish coworker, Tony, who’s actively trying to sabotage his career, and you can understand why Joe’s not happy. But now he’s been handed an easy job: serve divorce papers to Sara Moore, rich rancher Gordon Moore’s wife, and reap a hefty bonus. So Joe does exactly that, swiftly and sarcastically, not caring about the heartbreak he leaves in his wake. A stunned Sara quickly learns that Texas courts (where the summons was processed) will be loathe to give her more than the tiniest fraction of her and her husband’s $20 million fortune. New York, however (where Sara is vacationing), has a judicial system that looks kindly on ex-wives. It’s time for a scheme. If Joe will tear up Gordon’s divorce summons and serve him first (thus forcing the proceedings to be held in New York), Sara will hand over a hefty chuck of the fortune. But what if the career-hungry Tony manages to "serve Sara" before the pair can find Gordon? The chase is on. . . .

positive elements: Sara genuinely regrets that her marriage has fallen apart. She tells Joe that she kept working on it even during the hard times. She also questions how anyone could end a marriage flippantly. Joe left his first job as a defense attorney because he was tired of being a "sleazy" defendant of the guilty. He concludes that "being successful isn’t all about money." Despite the fact that (a thoroughly unconvincing) romance between Sara and Joe begins to bloom, Sara refuses to sleep with him because she wants to attend to "business"—at least at first.

spiritual content: After two Mafia bodyguards beat the living daylights out of Joe for serving their boss, an angry Sara says, "Well, well, there is a God." A bleeding Joe replies, "No, it was two Italians." Ray says he’s going to call Miss Cleo to see whether Gordon or Sara will get served first.

sexual content: Gordon has a long-running affair with a slinky, barely-clad tart. Sara and Joe also catch him flirting with a pair of shapely, spandex-attired female trainers. While trying to escape from Tony in an airport, Joe throws Sara onto the baggage carousel and then falls in himself, landing in between her legs. Her jeans then get snagged and torn off by a machinery gear, revealing her lacy underwear. Joe leers at her before she shoos him away. She raids every suitcase in sight for clothing, settling on a skirt of barely-legal length and a tight tube top emblazoned with the phrase "Trailer Trash." In order to get a free room at a hotel, Sara bares her breasts for the clerk (audiences see her from behind). Pretending to be from South America, Joe asks Gordon’s girlfriend if she would like to pour liquor over her privates. While drawing a bath, Sara undresses behind frosted glass. Gordon’s girlfriend tries to manipulate Joe by jiggling her breasts. One far too lengthy scene involves Joe posing as a veterinarian (it involves an impotent bull with an over-large prostate and a life-sized cow dummy with artificial sexual organs). [Spoiler Warning] Sara and Joe eventually sleep together (not seen) and move in together.

violent content: Among other things, while serving a Mafia member with his summons, Joe gets threatened by two bodyguards. Later, they beat him unconscious and leave him on the road after stealing his car. A quick braking bus driver causes Joe to slam his already bloodied nose into the seat in front of him. One of Gordon’s trainers repeatedly punches Joe, throws him across the room and kicks him in the groin. Tony gets shot with a shotgun while staking out a Texas farm at night; a subsequent scene has a nurse digging pellets out of his hairy back. Gordon’s bodyguard tortures a coworker by hanging him by his arm in order to find a misplaced stapler. Joe sics a dog on Tony (the creature tears at his face, throat and hands). Tony rams Joe���s car and shoots at he and Sara as they flee. While chasing Gordon at a monster truck rally, Joe is nearly crushed when Tony steals a truck and tries to run him over (in his haste, he accidentally flips his vehicle, trapping Gordon’s bodyguard who was chasing them on a stolen motorbike). Afterward, the two injured thugs punch each other in anger even though they’re strapped to stretchers.

crude or profane language: Almost 50 profanities appear in Serving Sara’s less than two hour running time. God and Jesus’ names are misused over 15 times. Characters use crude scatological and sexual slang as well. A cartoon-style spelling of the f-word appears on a pager.

drug and alcohol content: Joe smokes a cigarette and drinks his homemade wine with Sara (which is so awful they promptly spit it out). He admires Gordon’s wine collection after bluffing his way into his house. While in a restaurant, Gordon’s girlfriend orders a beer.

other negative elements: To put it bluntly, Serving Sara is a mean little film. Not a single character possess qualities that the most generous person would call sympathetic. Joe is especially despicable. He disobeys his boss, Ray, and constantly mocks Tony. Of course, Ray is meanly manipulative and Tony has a brutish jealous streak, yet somehow, nastiness in double doses never seems to make a situation any less nasty. Nothing stands in Joe’s way when it comes to delivering papers to his "marks." If you don’t have a legitimate way of getting into a building, lie your way in, Joe says. Or roll a burning tire into a downtown hotel. Or just resort to breaking and entering. Sara’s little better. Her hurt at being so quickly and callously dismissed by her husband quickly turns into a bitter yearning for revenge.

Ultimately, marriage takes it on the nose. Joe prides himself on being able to see the signs of an affair and no seemingly intact marriage escapes his watchful eye. When Sara wistfully eyes a kissing couple and says "At least they’re happy," Joe notes that only the man is wearing a wedding band. "Who makes out with his wife?" he cynically quips.

conclusion: Seeing Serving Sara is like seeing a friend with a bad case of stomach flu: it’s messy and unpleasant to watch. But unlike someone suffering from the flu, this mean-spirited, profane and crude Matthew Perry and Elizabeth Hurley raunch vehicle never seems to recover.

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