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Friday August 12th

Style, Sentiment Redeem Calorie-Free `Serendipity'


"Serendipity" is so obvious that it comes close to insulting the audience. Thankfully, it doesn't quite cross that line -- despite the absence of rational situations or truly human characters, the film is endearing enough to be sat through for its 90 minutes.

The movie focuses on the dilemma of Jonathan (John Cusack) and Sara (Kate Beckinsale). Their lives are thrown into disarray when they meet over a pair of gloves in Bloomingdale's and quickly fall in love.

Since the two are seeing other people and Sara believes so strongly in fate, she will not take further steps with Jon without a sign. The two agree not to share phone numbers or last names, but decide to write them in a random place and hope that fate will deliver each others' information.

Although such a plot gives way to many twists, the film has no real surprises.

The film's pacing, which hastens as the two chase after each other, compromises its effectiveness as a romantic comedy and makes the plot progression even more blatant. Some of the jokes are rushed, while the characters and conflicts aren't fleshed out enough to allow for real emotion.

Misunderstandings, near-misses and coincidences all happen at an impossible frequency. What's harder to take is how Jon and Sara can delay such a fantastic chance at love because of the hackneyed laws of fate and destiny.

While its weak points are evident, "Serendipity" is a perfectly fine escape into a world of sugary love and beautiful people.

What it lacks in reason and brains, the film makes up for with some style and plenty of heart. While they must contend with dialogue that is either too simple or too forced, Cusack and Beckinsale put effort into bringing some of that heart to the film -- their cuteness and charm reach the point where no one could root against them.

Jeremy Piven and Molly Shannon provide adequate support as Jon and Sara's respective best buddies. Eugene Levy, who raised the comedic bar of the "American Pie" films, does the same here as a disagreeable salesman.

But a great cast does not a great film make. "Serendipity" is like a Hollywood-brand piece of candy -- once it is fully taken in, it is soon forgotten. But it is sweet enough while it lasts.

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