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Sam North reviews the new Cusak/Bekinsdale romantic comedy
'This is a wonderful, cute, dryly witty movie that deserves a full house ...'

Kate Beckinsale Sara Jeremy Piven John Cusack Jonathan Molly Shannon Eugene Levy John Corbett
Director: Peter Chelshom
(Previous movie 'Hear My Song')

John Cusack and Kate Beckinsdale's romantic comedy Serendipity was pretty much snuck out on the UK's screens on Boxing Day and unlike the US where there is a tradition of going to the movies after Christmas, the empty theatres were a bad sign. In the UK however Boxing Day is hangover recovery time - family massacre/revenge or swap the gift day and even if my laughter did echo in the empty theatre, at least I was laughing. If this film is still there as you read this, grab your coat and hat and head on down to the Mall for a real treat.

You know how people say, screwball romantic comedy hasn't been good since Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn, well, if they had made Serendipity it wouldn't have been any funnier and that is paying a compliment. Not only do you believe that Cusack and Beckinsdale are cute and actually like each other, but you really want them to get together. Of course you just know that isn't going to happen. You do know that right?

For those who like to know what the actual plot is, it's ... well, two people meet who are already attached, like each other a lot and she makes him write his name and phone number on a five dollar bill which she promptly spends, saying trust to fate and serendipity to bring it back to me. If we are destined to be it. He is a tad bemused by this and if the kid hadn't gotten in the lift at the Waldorf....but hey, I'm not going to spoil this. This is a wonderful, cute, dryly witty movie that deserves a full house and they are crazy for releasing it on Boxing Day.

Cusack, you will know from watching him in 'High Fidelity' or 'Being John Malkovitch' is witty, cynical and great fun to watch. OK he made 'Americas' Sweethearts' with Julia Roberts which was a success, but generally that is not the kind of film we like to see him in and he looked really uncomfortable in the role of a 'movie star'. We expect more of him and to tell the truth, he has never been better than in 'Grosse Point Blank' playing the embittered hitman as his high school reunion.

Beckinsdale has to live down 'Pearl Harbour' and thankfully in Serendipity she is her normal Brit self and looks a lot more healthy and attractive in this than Pearl. You can see that she could be very much the leading lady for a few years to come. Of course they may have to shoot the continuity person on this film. Kate has annoying spot just below her nose that is on, then off, then on again. Hey we all get spots, so it's best just to acknowledge it rather than pretend it isn't there. Oh yes, and ask John what happened to her leather jacket on the ice. Mere quibbles, but you know, if they thought it was important enough to show it, why forget it?

In the end, who cares, Serendipity is great. The marketing plan is shit. How they could have screwed this up so bad I don't know, because there is absolutely nothing else to see out there.' Lord of the Rings' is so boring it makes you want to burn the book, 'Mean Machine' looks dire, 51st State is dire, there is nothing to see and here is this fast, funny, attractive witty and stylish film and no one is going to see it. Just what are they thinking of? Maybe they lost their nerve because it was a Brit Director whose only previous film was Hear My Song, long ago...but then, it's their money. Go anyway, there are no soldiers in it, no bombs, it's a tonic for god's sake.

Scenes to watch out for are the pre-wedding speech, the annoying salesman in Bloomies, and Lars, otherwise last seen as (John Corbett) the DJ in Northern Exposure. Niceto see him again even if he is the butt of an elaborate joke.

Beckinsdale and Cusack should make another movie together, tougher, more cynical with action, they really look and sound good together on film. Now, grab the tissues, buy some chocolate, take a friend and go see this movie or buy the DVD. And yes, it's way better than Sleepless in Seattle, trust me on this one.

© Sam North 2002

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