Serving Sara

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Serving Sara
Serving Sara Movie Poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byReginald Hudlin
Written byJay Scherick
David Ronn
Produced byDan Halsted
StarringMatthew Perry
Elizabeth Hurley
Bruce Campbell
Amy Adams
Vincent Pastore
Cedric the Entertainer
CinematographyRobert Brinkmann
Edited byJim Miller
Music byMarcus Miller
Distributed by
Release date
  • August 23, 2002 (2002-08-23)
Running time
99 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$29 million
Box office$20.1 million

Serving Sara is a 2002 American romantic comedy film directed by Reginald Hudlin and starring Matthew Perry, Elizabeth Hurley, and Bruce Campbell. Joe Tyler (Perry) is a process server who is given the assignment to serve Sara Moore (Hurley) with divorce papers. He does so, but Moore persuades Tyler to serve Moore's husband instead so that she can get a larger portion of his money in the divorce. The rest of the film follows their attempt to carry out Sara's plan. The film was panned by critics and did poorly at the box office, debuting in the top 10 when it was released on August 23, 2002 in the US, where it grossed only $5,750,000 on the weekend.


Joe Tyler (Matthew Perry), a process server, is a week late serving a Mafia kingpin known as Fat Charlie (Joe Viterelli) with a summons to appear as a witness in court. Joe's abrasive boss Ray (Cedric the Entertainer) ridicules him while complimenting Joe's rival, Tony (Vincent Pastore), for serving multiple summonses in record time. Willing to give Joe one last shot, Ray gives him an assignment to serve British socialite Sara Moore (Elizabeth Hurley) with divorce papers from her husband, Gordon (Bruce Campbell), who is at his ranch in Texas with his mistress, Kate (Amy Adams), while Sara is vacationing in upstate New York.

While Joe is attempting to serve Sara, Tony tips her off, thus revealing that Joe has been failing lately because Tony is sabotaging his efforts. Eventually Joe does serve her, but is mugged soon thereafter. Joe and Sara are forced to take the same bus; while they are riding together, Joe informs her that, under Texas law, she stands to gain nothing from the divorce. When she learns that "half of everything" would apply if the papers had been served under New York law, Sara offers Joe a million dollars to serve her husband and rip up her papers. Despite knowing that he might lose his job, Joe agrees and the two set off together to serve Gordon.

When Ray hears of their plan, he informs Gordon and sends Tony off to re-serve Sara. Gordon hires a bodyguard (Terry Crews) to protect himself, and Joe, expecting Tony to tail him, leaves a set of bogus clues that lead Tony to Miami, Florida, Bangor, Maine, and then Amarillo, Texas, where Tony is shot in the back as he attempts to get on the grounds of the wrong ranch to try to serve the papers. Sara and Joe trail Gordon to his ranch, but Gordon evades them. At the ranch, Sara takes some money and Gordon's passport so that he cannot leave the country. Sara and Joe stay overnight at a hotel, and Joe tells Sara of his dream of owning a vineyard. While Sara is bathing, Joe goes to the bar, and Gordon's mistress appears to suggest a new deal to Joe; for one million dollars from the divorce settlement, she will reveal Gordon's location. Joe agrees, but the entire deal is a setup to get Tony into the hotel room to serve Sara, which he does. Furious, Sara kicks Joe out.

While Joe contemplates his lost fortune and budding affection for Sara, he notices Tony's watch in the picture Tony took of him serving Sara, and calls Ray to inform him that Tony forgot to set his watch to Central Time Zone, so that the papers do not take effect until 7:04 pm Central Time. With mere minutes until they both lose a fortune, Joe and Sara trail Gordon to a monster truck rally. They evade both Gordon's bodyguard and Tony, and with seconds to spare, Sara knocks Gordon out by dropping a six-pack of beer on his head. Joe serves him under New York law and Gordon takes the papers. Tony and the bodyguard are carried out of the stadium on stretchers and then attempt to fight one another. The final scene shows Joe and Sara at Joe's vineyard, where they taste-test a bottle of Joe's first vintage before going inside to have sex.



Critical response[edit]

Serving Sara was universally panned and received extremely negative reviews from critics. On Metacritic, it holds a score of 18 out of 100 based on 26 reviews, indicating "overwhelming dislike."[2] On Rotten Tomatoes, it holds an approval rating of 4%, based on 113 reviews, with an average score of 3.2/10. The website's critical consensus states: "A romantic comedy that's neither funny nor particularly romantic, Serving Sara is a forgettable time waster."[3]

Cynthia Fuchs from PopMatters found the progression of the plot "increasingly incoherent, a string of rehashed sight gags based in insipid vulgarity."[4] Entertainment Weekly's Lisa Schwarzbaum described the film's humor as being "a cattle ranch full of joke droppings and mooing shtick not worth stepping in."[5] Scott Tobias of The A.V. Club said about the film, "[A] third-rate conflation of Midnight Run and It Happened One Night, Serving Sara relies heavily on Perry's perpetually exasperated shtick, which fits more comfortably among the democratic ensemble of TV's Friends."[6] Manohla Dargis of the Los Angeles Times called it, "One of the more cynical and insulting Hollywood offerings in recent memory," saying that, "Unfunny and lacking any sense of commitment to or affection for its characters, the Reginald Hudlin comedy relies on toilet humor, ethnic slurs."[7] In a review for The New York Times, Stephen Holden criticized the film for utilizing a similar cattle gag scene from the Farrelly brothers comedy Say It Isn't So to grab laughs from the audience, saying that "Some jokes, apparently, are just so uproarious they have to be recycled." He also gave note of the performances of Perry and Hurley, finding the latter coming out unscathed but felt the former doesn't do well because "his blocky, charmless screen presence and attitude of blustery impatience make the movie sometimes hard to watch."[8]

Box office[edit]

The film opened at #6 at the U.S. box office and earned $5.7 million in its opening weekend. The film had a budget of $29 million and the film's total gross in the United States was $16.9 million.[9] The film grossed only $20,146,150 at the international box office, although Serving Sara has since been more successful with DVD sales and airing on television worldwide.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Harris, Dana (17 December 2001). "Mandalay on road with Summit". Variety. Retrieved 19 October 2021.
  2. ^ "Serving Sara Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Archived from the original on January 11, 2021. Retrieved August 29, 2007.
  3. ^ "Serving Sara (2002)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Archived from the original on June 1, 2021. Retrieved June 1, 2021.
  4. ^ Fuchs, Cynthia (August 21, 2002). "Serving Sara (2002)". PopMatters. Archived from the original on January 22, 2021. Retrieved April 1, 2018.
  5. ^ Schwarzbaum, Lisa (August 28, 2002). "Serving Sara". Entertainment Weekly. Time Inc. Archived from the original on November 27, 2020. Retrieved April 5, 2018.
  6. ^ Tobias, Scott (August 30, 2002). "Serving Sara". The A.V. Club. The Onion. Archived from the original on October 4, 2020. Retrieved April 1, 2018.
  7. ^ Dargis, Manohla (August 23, 2002). "'Serving Sara' Does No Service to Anyone, Viewers Least of All". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on October 4, 2020. Retrieved June 1, 2021.
  8. ^ Holden, Stephen (August 23, 2002). "Rich Man Wants a Divorce; His Wife Has Her Own Plans". The New York Times. Archived from the original on October 4, 2020. Retrieved April 1, 2018.
  9. ^ Serving Sara at Box Office Mojo. Retrieved August 29, 2007.

External links[edit]