For Serendipity, director Peter Chelsom has taken a page out of the Nora Ephron Handbook ' no, not a page, but the whole book except for the page that says to hire Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale star in this (oh, let's just call it an) homage to Sleepless in Seattle and When Harry Met Sally, themselves homages to all those great romantic comedies of the '30s and '40s. (You know the ones.) That the movie is doubly ersatz wouldn't be a problem, I suppose, if it were singularly anything else. Like You've Got Mail, it's set in Manhattan around Christmas time, and I must confess that I kept looking over Cusack's and Beckinsale's shoulders for the World Trade Center. Then it occurred to me that I should probably be following the story instead.
The story: Our fateful couple meet at Bloomingdale's while trying to buy the same pair of cashmere gloves for their respective boyfriend and girlfriend. It's more or less love at first sight, but Beckinsale's Sara, who believes in destiny, requires a sign that she and Cusack's Jonathan are meant to be together. The signs don't align immediately, but they sure as hell do by the end of this lazily written movie, which tries to make up for the holes in its plot by calling the whole thing Serendipity. I should point out that the guy next to me literally gasped every time the movie pulled another coincidence out of its hat, and that the audience seemed to be enjoying themselves.
Maybe everyone wants to forget the last three weeks for a while. I can understand that, but Serendipity blithely ignores the last 50 years.