Silly Brit Sarah (Kate Beckinsale) bumps into dopey New Yorker Jonathan (John Cusack) over a pair of black cashmere gloves and shares her thoughts on destiny over a cup of coffee. Sparks fly though Sarah advises they remain loyal to their significant others. At 90 minutes, Serendipity is perhaps too efficient for its own deus ex machina. Sarah is way too fond of chance, scribbling her contact info on a copy of Love in the Time of Cholera while he scribbles his on a five dollar bill. Only in Hollywood do memento moris boomerang with such precision. For Sarah, if they “return to sender” then they are definitely meant to be. Years later, Sarah is a San Francisco psychiatrist seemingly disillusioned by her own philosophy. In New York, Jonathan begins to see imprints of Sarah everywhere. Both are set to marry (she to a singer more whole-grain than John Tesh, he to a beautiful tell-me-I’m-the-one putz) though their respective bouts of the jitters give way to a last-ditch search for higher love. The Gabriel Garcia Marquez tome and the five-spot exchange hands with “darn, you just missed him” care. The fluffy Serendipity may nauseate (Jonathan sees Casiopia in Sarah’s freckles) but its naïveté is more than appeased by snowy backdrops and hysterical supporting players (Eugene Levy and Molly Shannon). Eyes will roll, hearts will melt; just in time for Christmas.
Serendipity is the kind of movie that’s perhaps best savored on the small screen. Director Peter Chelsom’s use of widescreen is less impressive than his simple yet evocative implementation of varying film speeds. While the film’s DVD is incredibly handsome to look at, the disc’s opening scenes are noticeably riddled with blemishes. No matter: they’ll go away and you’ll soon forget once the film’s clean, full-range soundtrack chimes along with shots of falling snow and intimate coffee shop conversations.
Presentation goes a long way and Disney has done a fantastic job with the design of their Serendipity DVD package. The film’s infamous five-note and Marquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera become clever backdrops for the disc’s interactive menus. Falling snowflakes and music from the film’s score emphasize the film’s holiday appeal. That said, make sure to click over any and all snowflakes or you might just miss an additional page of bonus features. Peter Chelsom’s commentary track is bare bones and relatively unspectacular. Nonetheless, the director shows passion for his actors and reveals his attempts at creating a Cold War mood with the film’s Bloomingdales basement sequences. As for the track’s most interesting factoid: New Line lent Disney leftover aerial sequences from Chelsom’s Town & Country. More interesting than Chelsom’s commentary is his Production Diary. Comfortably presented within the pages of a digitally designed book, the diary offers an intimate glimpse at the director’s thoughts during the entire Serendipity production. Sneak Peeks becomes Disney’s disposable promotional corner. Here you’ll find a commercial for the film’s soundtrack, soapnet.com (all major clips are from Disney-owned ABC soap operas), and trailers for About Adam and Bridget Jones’s Diary. One of the more interesting aspects of the film’s Deleted Scenes is that they’re thankfully without commentary. Variations of the film’s Bloomingdales opening and Jonathan and Sara’s coffee shop conversation may be organic but unnecessarily long-winded. More importantly, these scenes egregiously ruminate on the film’s obsession with fate before such talk is even necessary. Other features include Storyboard Comparisons (of the film’s difficult-to-shoot though cinematically banal golf driving range sequence), a Starz Encore "On The Set" featurette, the film’s theatrical trailer and a still gallery.
Buy it now. Wait ’til Christmas to watch it.