Starring:John Cusack, Kate Beckinsale Directed by:Peter Chelsom

Sometimes movies are like comfort food to me. If I am in a bad mood for any reason, I can throw in one of these movies and just forget about everything for a while. Serendipity definitely falls into the aforementioned category. There was a time when the second-run theater near my home town was playing Serendipity for what seemed like years. During that time I probably watched it a half-dozen times. There are worse ways I could have spent two dollars at the time.

Serendipity brings nothing new to the romantic comedy genre, but most people don’t watch movies like this to see something different. This movie plays on a hope that many people have; the idea that there is some great force drawing us to our true love. Many rom-coms use the idea of “the one” or “love at first sight”, but Serendipity is marginally different in that the characters are constantly discussing and trying to fight against these cliché notions.

The film begins with a chance meeting between Jonathan (Cusack) and Sara (Beckinsale). They spend one perfect evening enjoying all the charms of New York City. At the conclusion of the evening, Sara tries to give Jonathan her number, but fate steps in and the number is lost. Sara takes this accident as a “sign” and doesn’t give Jonathan the number again. Instead Sara devises a plan to let the universe bring them back together. She has Jonathan write his name and number on a five dollar bill then spends it, and she puts her information into a copy of Love in the Time of Cholera and sells it to a used bookstore. Sara does all this because she knows that eventually fate will lend a hand and bring the two back together.

The bulk of the film takes place a few years later, where both Sara and Jonathan, having never found each other,  are about to marry other people.  Let’s not pretend that we don’t know how this film ends. If for some reason you do not know how the formula for a romantic comedy works, please stop reading this now…

Eventually, after a number of wild goose chases and near misses, Jonathan and Sara do find each other, and from this comes the most annoying thing and my favorite thing about Serendipity. Both of our main characters are about to get married, and we the audience don’t want that to happen. It is genuinely sad when the relationship ends between Jonathan and his fiancée since she appears to be a wonderful person who just had the bad luck of falling in love with a man whose heart belonged to another. On the other hand, Sara’s potential husband is such a ridiculous tool, and it seems hard to imagine that she would have ever loved him in the first place. I don’t know why that always stuck in my craw, but it has.

My favorite thing is much simpler. When our film draws to its inevitable conclusion and Jonathan and Sara finally meet each other again after many years of searching and dreaming, at that moment when he sees her again…he has a tear running down his face. Just a simple moment of emotion that helps to bookend the film nicely.

Serendipity is not a great movie. However, it is great for what it is. This is a cotton candy genre, and Serendipity just stands out as being a little bit sweeter than the others. So just sit back, forget about the world for a while, cue the Nick Drake music, and enjoy Serendipty.