MRR Movie Review: Serendipity

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A couple reunite years after the night they first met, fell in love, and separated, convinced that one day they'd end up together. Starring John Cusack, Kate Beckinsale, Jeremy Piven and Bridget Moynahan.
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Movie Review: "Serendipity"

-- Rating: PG-13
Length: 90 minutes
Release Date: October 5, 2001
Directed by: Peter Chelsom
Genre: Comedy, Romance

If there is one thing that John Cusack knows, it's a romantic comedy. In "Serendipity," the actor channels his romantic nature into an adult character who will tug at the heart of anyone watching.

Jonathon Trager (Cusack, "Say Anything") meets a beautiful woman named Sara (Kate Beckinsale, "Underworld") while shopping for Christmas presents. The cute meet occurs when they both reach for the last pair of gloves on the shelf. After talking and flirting over the gloves, they decide to spend the night together, ice-skating and getting to know each other. Though Jonathon wants to see her again, Sara decides to leave it up to fate. She writes her phone number in a book and sells it at a book stand, and he writes his number on a $5 bill, which she promptly spends. She tells him that if they are meant to be, they will each find the other's phone number.

"Serendipity" then cuts to the future. Jonathon is now engaged to Halley (Bridget Moynahan, "Coyote Ugly"), and Sara is involved with Lars (John Corbett, "Sex and the City"). Despite his commitment to another woman, Jonathon cannot get Sara out of his mind. He drags his best friend Dean (Jeremy Piven, "Entourage") around on a hunt to find his lost love. Sara finds herself thinking about Jonathon more often as she arrives in New York with her best friend Eve (Molly Shannon, "Saturday Night Live"). The film tells the story of their potential relationship, leaving viewers to wonder if they will find their way back to each other.

Cusack first made women swoon in his early films like "Say Anything" and "The Sure Thing," and in this film, he takes his acting to another level. As Jonathon, he portrays a man who is like the adult version of his past roles. He shares a nice chemistry with Piven, who is one of his best friends in real life. The two's off-screen relationship shines through in every scene, making viewers understand why Dean would want the best for his friend.

A romantic comedy is only as strong as the chemistry between the two lead characters, and Beckinsale and Cusack have great chemistry. Beckinsale's Sara is a woman who finds herself trapped between the man she has with and the man she wants. While Lars seems like the perfect man, Beckinsale makes the viewers understand why she would want something more out of life. Though Beckinsale and Cusack only share a handful of scenes together, those scenes are powerful enough to make viewers root for the couple.

The film also does a smart job of introducing background characters that bring some comedic relief to the storyline. Molly Shannon plays Eve, Sara's best friend. Though she knows that her friend shared an amazing night years ago with another man, she seems to enjoy pushing her into the arms of Lars. Shannon also has some highlights in the film, including a humorous scene where she purchases a fake Prada wallet in Times Square.

Another standout in the film is Eugene Levy ("Best in Show"). Levy turns up in a small role as an unnamed salesman who works in the store where the couple met. When Jonathon begs him for information on Sara, he agrees but only if Jonathon purchases clothing from him. The scenes involving him pawning out-of-date clothing on Cusack will make anyone laugh.

While "Serendipity" is a fun film, it does have a few minor flaws. The pacing in the film is an issue because most romantic comedies focus on the interactions between the main characters. Jonathon and Sara meet at the beginning of the film, but they spend most of the film apart. Everything seems to lead up to the moment when they finally find each other, but it takes a little too long for the couple to reach that point. Few viewers will want to watch Corbett hamming it up as an over-the-top musician or Moynahan as the slightly younger love of Cusack. Moynahan is a strong actress, but no one could tell that by watching her here. She spends most of the film supporting Jonathon and planning their wedding, only to watch as he pines over another woman.

Those minor problems are easy to ignore because "Serendipity" is such a cute film. Cusack makes it easy for viewers to fall in love with him, which makes it easy to view him as Beckinsale's true love. Romance oozes from the film, and some viewers might find themselves wondering how these two actors didn't fall in love in real life.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars