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Featured Blu-ray Review: Serendipity and She's All That

January 2nd, 2012

Serendipity - Blu-ray - Buy from Amazon
She's All That - Blu-ray - Buy from Amazon

This week we have a couple of romantic films that were originally released by Miramax that are now making their Blu-ray debuts: Serendipity and She's All That. Both films came out over a decade ago and both were solid hits at the box office. That is to say, both films made much more than they cost to produce, but well below the $100 million milestone. There are plenty of films that perform this well that come out each year, so are either of these films memorable enough warrant owning? If so, are they worth grabbing on Blu-ray?


The film begins a few years ago during Christmas time. Bloomingdales is super crowded and both Jonathan Trager and Sara Thomas are grabbing for the same pair of black cashmere gloves. After trying to decide who should get them, another shopper swoops in and grabs them. The two then have a connection, but she has a boyfriend and she says if they were meant to be together, they will meet again. That happens almost instantly when he forgets his scarf and she forgets her new gloves at the restaurant they went to together, Serendipity. After going ice skating, Jonathan finally convinces Sara to give him her phone number. She writes it on a piece of paper, but just as she's about to hand it to him, a large truck drives by and it's blown away. Taking that as another sign. He's able to convince her to give fate one more chance. He writes his name and phone number on a five dollar bill, which she immediately spends. She will write her name and phone number in an old book, Love in the Time of Cholera, and sell it to a used book store. If the bill comes back to her or he finds the book, then they know it was fate.

Fast forward a few years later and Jonathan Trager and Sara Thomas are engaged to be married... to other people. He's marrying Halley Buchanan, but after walking home from his engagement party, he sees a used book seller on the street selling Love in the Time of Cholera and checks to see if it was hers. Meanwhile, she is living in San Francisco and was proposed to by her musician boyfriend, Lars Hammond, in what I can only assume was meant to be a romantic way. (Pet peeve of mine: Unattended candles are not romantic; they are a fire hazard.)

They both seem happy, but Jonathan keeps hearing the name Sara over and over again, so decides it's a sign that he needs to try one last time to find his Sara. His best friend and soon-to-be best man, Dean Kansky, tells him to forget it. Besides, with only a first name, there's no way to track her down. However, later he finds the Bloomingdales bag with the one glove it in, and the receipt. It's not much, but it's enough to start the search. Meanwhile, Sara is also happy, but her finance's band is taking off and it's going to mess with the scheduled honeymoon. She's having second thoughts worried that he's putting his musical career ahead of their marriage and while she is walking on the street, she sees a poster for Cool Hand Luke, Jon's favorite movie. It's too much of a coincidence, so she decides to go to New York City, with her best friend, Eve, to try one last time to find each other.

Will they find each other again? The answer to that will only surprise you if you've never seen a Romantic Comedy before in your life. In fact, the only aspect of this movie that sets it apart from most others in the genre are the two leads, more specifically, how little screen time they share. Outside of what you could call an extended prologue, they have almost no scenes together. This can be a bit of a problem, as romantic comedies tend to live and die on the chemistry of the two leads, but here they don't have much time to showcase it. When they do, there is a spark, but Jon and Sara spend more time with their respect best friends than with each other. The other main issue a lot of people have is the total number of coincidences in the film. However, I would say to these people you are missing the point.

If you are a fan of the genre in general or of John Cusack and / or Kate Beckinsale in particular, then Serendipity is worth checking out.

The Extras

Peter Chelsom sits down for a solo commentary track. It suffers from the same problems a lot of commentary tracks have, namely it lacks energy. There are a couple of behind-the-scenes featurettes, deleted scenes, and a storyboard comparison. It's all ported over from the previous DVD release.

The video looks good, for the most part. It wasn't a terribly expensive film to make and there are a couple smalls specks of print damage and the occasional (over)use of DNR, but it certainly looks better than it does on DVD. The colors are a better selling point, as are the blacks and the contrast. The audio offers clear dialogue with enough ambient sound to sound full, but this is not an audio that will push your home theater setup.

As for the price, it's $9.99 on, which is perfect for shovelware.

She's All That

She's All That is a high school romantic comedy starring, among others, Freddie Prinze, Jr. as Zach. Zach is the captain of the soccer team and the president of the school body, but coming back from the Spring Break he's in for some back news. While he was at Vail skiing with his parents, his girlfriend, Taylor, was with her friends at Dayona beach, where she met Brock Hudson, one of the stars of The Real World. Taylor dumped Zach for Brock, because Brock is / was famous.

At first Zach is pretty crushed, especially with how cold Taylor treats the whole situation. But he decides she's replaceable. His two best friends, Dean and Preston, disagree. Preston understands he's in a vulnerable place, but Dean eggs him on. Eventually Zach and Dean have a bet: Dean will pick out any girl from school and Zach will turn her into the Prom Queen. Dean chooses Laney Boggs. Laney is what you would call "movie ugly". In other words, she's gorgeous, but an outsider who doesn't fit in with the alpha cliques in school.

Zach's initial attempt to talk to Laney doesn't work out as well as he would have hoped. (He calls her brother spaz, but in a non-malicious way, and she bolts without giving him the time of day.) He is determined to make this work, so he follows her to the fast food restaurant where she works, gets himself invited to the art club she performs at, even tries worming his way into her life by being friendly with her brother. It starts to work. He gets her to go to the beach with him. She even agrees to go to a party at Preston's house, after he gets the soccer team to clean up her house and gets his sister, Mackenzie, to give her a makeover.

It's all going great. However, at the party, Taylor begins to get jealous of Laney and Dean starts to get all lusty. Worse still, Zach starts to have genuine feelings for her.

That last paragraph might seem like it is filled with spoilers, but it's not. She's All That is a teenage Rom. Com., and these tend to be even more predictable than the average romantic comedy. It has an Ugly Duckling plot to it, plus the bet between friends. It's one cliché after another. Given that, if you are a fan of these films, you will mostly likely forgive the predictability factor. The movie still has some issues to deal with. Some of the acting was a little stiff, while some of the characters were too cartoonish.

The film also has some assets that really stand out. For instance, Rachel Lee Cook is excellent in the movie and there are a number of supporting characters that are played by great actors. Gabrielle Union plays one of Taylor's nicer friends. I already mentioned Mackenzie, who was played by Anna Paquin. I especially liked Kevin Pollack as Laney's dad. Also, while the overall plot is overused, the Cinderella story is a classic for a reason.

Overall, I think the positives outweigh the negatives. And while it is not a great movie, it is worth seeing.

The Extras

This Blu-ray is not shovelware, as there is a new audio commentary track by the director, Robert Iscove. It has plenty of information, but like many solo tracks, it's a little light on the energy. There is also a music video for "Kiss Me" by Sixpence None the Richer.

As for the video and audio quality... The film was made twelve years ago for only $10 million, so you can't expect it to be reference quality. There are a few too many scenes that are soft and sometimes the colors are a little faded. There's no obvious print damage and no compression issues or overuse of DNR. It's a huge step up from the DVD, especially since it was non-anamorphic widescreen. As for the audio, it's clear but very uncomplicated. The original DVD was 2.0 stereo I believe, so it is a step up, but it won't impress your home theater system.

As for the price, it too is $9.99 on It's hard to argue with that price, especially with a new audio commentary track.

The Verdict

If you are a fan of Romantic Comedies, then both the Serendipity Blu-ray and the She's All That Blu-ray are worth checking out. They don't have a lot of extras, nor are they standouts in the audio / video departments, but they are worth the price on

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Filed under: Video Review, She's All That, Serendipity