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Serendipity review by David Richards

Grade: B +
   Here we have the common romantic comedy formula and this one is just as predictable as the next.
   It's no big secret what's going to happen in the beginning. There's no bonus prize for guessing how it's going to end, but what we don't know is what's going to happen in the middle and those in between scenes are some of Serendipity's best moments.
   The film is an hour and a half of light heartedness, and works well because it has a sense of humor, witty dialogue and two very likable lead characters.
   On a supposed chance meeting, Sara (Kate Beckinsale) and Jonathan (John Cusack) meet in a department store, argue over a pair of black gloves, spend a day staring into each others eyes and then part ways.
   She feels that if Fate has meant them to be together they'll cross paths someday again. He thinks she's nuts, but goes along with it.
   To test the powers of destiny, she writes her name and number in a book. He writes his on a five dollar bill. The book gets sold to a used book store; the bill is changed in at a newsstand. If his number comes back to her and hers to him, then the magic of Fate must have been working overtime.
   As the film moves along and years go by, we learn how Jonathan has since met someone else (Bridget Moynahan), and is engaged. He still lives in New York, while Sara (John Corbett), who is dating a long-haired, New Age musician, has moved to San Francisco.
   It's about this time when Jonathan and Sara start thinking about each other again. The two rally around their best friends (Jeremy Piven and Molly Shannon) for advice and support before beginning their search to see if that chance encounter at Bloomingdales years ago was really some small part of a bigger plan.
   Yes, it's all been done before and we can't get a real feel for the chemistry of the two lead characters because they spend most of the film apart, but what makes Serendipity most worthwhile is the cleverness involved with Marc Klein's screenplay.
   The two main characters are constantly crossing paths all over New York, yet each sequence is written with a certain amount of wit and skill.
   I especially enjoyed the scene where Sara's best friend is invited to Jonathan's wedding rehearsal. Just when we think Sara and Jonathan are finally going to find each other, they miss again.
   The scene between Cusack and his fiance after the wedding rehearsal is also impressive. Cusack shows a lot of emotion here.
   Contrary to the belief of the other movie critic on this page, Cusack and Beckinsale pull this off in grand fashion. Cusack (Say Anything, The Sure Thing) is a master in roles like this, while Beckinsale proves she can hold her own as a Hollywood leading actress.
   ****Serendipity is rated PG-13 for a scene of sexuality and brief language