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Elizabeth Hurley’s had more than her share of tabloid-splashed real-life spurnings, so hell if she’s gonna break down in front of a camera over a fake one. Never mind that spurned-ness happens to be the central motivation for her character in Serving Sara (Paramount, in general release), a jilted trophy wife looking to short-sheet her ten-gallon asshole of a hubby by beating him to the divorce-paper punch. That our bedazzling bird could lose sight of this particular plot point by about three minutes into the flick doesn’t bode well. And director Reginald Hudlin, who might have reminded her, was surely too busy keeping Matthew Perry vertical. With Vicodin-sharp timing, Perry wavers from glib to glazed, seeming to openly rue his miscasting as palookaville process server Joe Tyler, chafing at his Jackie Jr.-style leather suit-jacket and cowering in the glare of every character actor from workplace rival Vincent Pastore to lovable crooked cop Marshall Bell. Cedric the Entertainer, as Tyler’s zooty, Zen-garden-raking boss honey-drips each line into the film’s only real comedy, rescuing all his scenes with Perry. In fact, once you accept that Hurley’s presence has nothing whatsoever to do with the screenwriters’ conception of Sara—her sticky, fly-trap camp potential truly blossoms when a strategic mishap lands her in a cowboy boot, baby tee, and kilt combo that makes Kylie Minogue look like Maggie Thatcher—she too grinds the hapless Perry into detritus. As Sara’s soon-to-be ex, Evil Dead genius Bruce Campbell unfortunately doesn’t indulge in any self-mutilation, though watching Perry muck up cinch slapstick had to hurt. As for romance, well, all good publicity dog-waggers know that while tirelessly infecting chat rooms with rumors of stars in real-life love it’s always best to make sure that said stars at least have a go at conjuring some onscreen frisson. The prudish kiss we get here, with a queasy approach worthy of the Jaws theme, locks in Hurley’s Cruella de Mille future, and leaves Perry looking more like a place-holding pal.

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