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Serendipity makes for pure movie magic

Signs are everywhere. Everything happens for a reason. Fortunate accidents happen all the time. People fall in love and don’t know why. Sometimes we take chances and sometimes we don’t.

These are the themes of Serendipity, a new film that follows the romantic comedy formula and succeeds.

John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale play Jonathan and Sara, two people who meet during the holidays in the early 1990s and spend a busy shopping day getting to know each other. But when

Jonathan loses Sara’s phone number in a gust of wind, she says it must be fate and tells him destiny will decide if they are meant for each other.

The simplistic opening works because the chemistry between Cusack and Beckinsale is phenomenal. This sets the tone of the film and allows the audience to root for them to get back together because their characters will probably never find that same chemistry with anyone else again.

When present day rolls around, the two are engaged to other people and live on opposite sides of the country. As fate would have it, Jonathan and Sara experience cold feet and begin to obsess over that fateful encounter long ago and wonder what could have been.

Jeremy Piven and Molly Shannon play the best friends of our respective protagonists, and the film is filled with witty scenes involving mishaps on the way to finding their true loves again.

Sara’s fiancé Lars (John Corbett), a new-age musician, gives the audience further reasons to want Sara to leave him when he tells her that his concert schedule is more important than her.

Likewise, but to a lesser extent, Jonathan realizes his relationship is also less than perfect when he compares Haley (Bridget Moynahan) to The Godfather Part 2, claiming he can’t appreciate Haley without knowing what life with Sara is like.

Serendipity is a sweet tale about love and taking chances, such as leaving your fiancée because you think you’ll be better off with someone else.

Cusack, no stranger to romantic comedy, may have found the perfect character for his bumbling persona as Jonathan, a seemingly happy man who becomes desperate when his newfound obsession with Sara arises again.

But the performance of the film goes to Piven. Unfortunately, he has been stuck in the “best friend” roles too often recently, but here it works. As an obituary writer for the New York Times, Piven’s character helps Jonathan track down Sara with nothing more than a first name and an old receipt. Their escapades lead them everywhere from a department store warehouse, guided by a stuck-up sales clerk (Eugene Levy), all the way to Sara’s house in San Francisco.

Overall, Serendipity makes you smile. Whether you’re madly in love with someone or your heart has been broken, this film should appeal to you and give you hope that there is happiness to be found in a world currently filled with sadness.

Some silly aspects, such as Lars’ eccentric music video and Levy’s entire character, don’t distract from the message here.If anything, the long and ridiculous scenes, such as Jonathan arguing with Levy’s manipulative store clerk, help you do what the film attempts to achieve – to make you laugh.