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Serendipity

It's pretty ironic that director Peter Chelsom's first film (a British short) was called Treacle — perhaps the movie gods knew Serendipity (2001) was in his future? Because this "boy meets girl," "girl ditches boy in faith that fate will bring them back together," "boy and girl subsequently search frantically for each other" trifle is about as sweet and sticky as it gets. Every scene is predictable, every cliché is embraced enthusiastically .. and if you have a soft spot for romantic comedies, you'll still be sighing happily by the time the end credits roll. With a less-appealing cast, that probably wouldn't have been the case. But as Sara and Jonathan, an English girl and a New York boy who meet-cute when they both grab Bloomingdale's last pair of black cashmere gloves while Christmas shopping, Kate Beckinsale and John Cusack are, frankly, adorable. Sure, Cusack's still doing the same fast-talking, neurotic-but-sensitive shtick he's had down pat since Say Anything, but that's persona his fans love. And Beckinsale's growing number of adorers surely won't be disappointed at the sight of her circling an ice rink in an itty-bitty miniskirt, snowflakes swirling around her perfectly lit face. However, her character's stubborn faith in fate is another matter. Who could possibly be idiotic enough to let a guy like Jonathan just disappear, trusting in the cosmos enough to bring him back to her side? It takes her seven years to wake up and smell the bacon; newly engaged to mystic Eastern musician Lars (John Corbett), Sara decides she needs to find Jonathan again to see if they really were meant to be together. Coincidentally enough, Jonathan, who's also about to get hitched (to Bridget Moynahan's pretty Halley), is looking for her too. Both draft their best friends into the search effort — Molly Shannon plays Sara's more-grounded pal Eve and (surprise, surprise) Jeremy Piven is Jonathan's best man Dean — and zip frantically about New York trying to recapture the magic of the night they met. But despite the movie's ultimate lack of originality and the fact that it suffers from Sleepless in Seattle syndrome (the leads frustratingly spend the majority of the movie apart), as a chick-flick earmarked for a night on the couch in your pajamas, it's not bad. After all, much as we — like Shannon's Eve — try to convince ourselves that there are all kinds of fish in the sea for us, who doesn't secretly hope to find their one true soulmate? In Hollywood, anyway, it's still possible. Buena Vista's Serendipity DVD offers an anamorphic transfer (1.85:1) that makes New York sparkle, and the Dolby Digital 5.1 audio is clear (other options include a French 2.0 track and English and Spanish subtitles). The disc's healthy list of extras includes a 20-minute behind-the-scenes featurette originally produced for Starz/Encore, Chelsom's on-set diary, a multitude of still pictures, the theatrical trailer, a storyboard comparison scene, five deleted scenes (including the original version of the movie's opening, which ended up being re-shot), and Chelsom's fairly sedate full-length commentary track. Keep-case.
—Betsy Bozdech



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