You know, the truth is, I actually like romantic comedies. I am man enough to admit that. We all would love to live in a world of love and friendship and gentle laughter. Why not? You think I want it to be all The Hurt Locker all the time? No way! That movie was great, but it was basically a two hour long prescription for Xanax. The problem with romantic comedies, though, is that they are tied with action movie as the genre that Hollywood feels most comfortable phoning in. And when a romantic comedy is lazy and bad, it rewrites the definition of lazy and bad. And when you look up the definition of lazy and bad on your Franklin Portable Electronic Dictionary, there is a streaming video of Serendipity.

The fact that you cannot drink alcohol in a department store is the least of this movie’s mistakes/problems.

Serendipity is about a stupid jerk (John Cusack) who goes to Bloomingdales to buy his girlfriend–whom he apparently hates–a pair of gloves, but then this woman (Kate Beckinsale) wants the gloves for her boyfriend, AND THERE IS ONLY ONE PAIR OF GLOVES. In the event that you are wondering what kind of cashmere gloves are both the same size and style for a girlfriend or a boyfriend, you are already thinking too hard about this movie, and you should turn it off and lie down. But, so, you know how it is when you’re trying to buy a really lazy, thoughtless present for a person you are about to prove that you couldn’t care less about and someone else is trying to do the same thing? What do you do in that situation? YOU GO OUT FOR EXPENSIVE YUPPY DESSERTS! So, just to clarify, we are five minutes into this movie when it reveals that it takes its name from an over-priced Upper East Side “patisserie” for assholes. (Visit them on the web!) Perfect. How many more bullets I mean minutes are left?

After their $45 hot chocolates, or whatever, John Cusack tries to get Kate Beckinsale’s number, but she spouts some nonsense about fate and gets into a cab without even telling him her name. But then he forgot his scarf and she forgot–God, is this movie over yet?–her Bloomingdales bag, so they run into each other back at the dessert store and they make the decision to go ice skating in Central Park, because nothing says romance and spontaneity than a tourist trap crawl.

Now THAT is funny.

We are now 10 minutes into the movie. John Cusack is seriously DOGGING Kate Beckinsale. He must be the best boyfriend on Earth! Who wouldn’t fall for a guy like that! “I’m not going to fight you over who gets to buy these gloves as a present for their significant other because I fucking HATE her!” And no wonder he is dogging her so hard, because her insistence on elaborate tests of non-existent fate are just so charming and wonderful. She finally relents and writes down her phone number on a scrap of paper, but then a passing truck stirs up a whirlwind of scrap paper and John Cusack loses it in the storm!

Classic thing that happens!

ONLY IN NEW YORK! Kate Beckinsale refuses to write it down for him again, because truck-passing-generated-trash-whirlwinds are “signs” that they shouldn’t be together, or at the very least shouldn’t call each other. Finally, she comes up with another scheme. She makes John Cusack write HIS phone number down on a five dollar bill, and then she uses that money to buy some Certs. She says that if the five dollar bill ever makes its way back into her wallet, then she will know that they were meant to…what? Go on a fucking date? NONE OF THIS IS AS IMPORTANT AS SHE IS MAKING IT OUT TO BE. In return, she writes her phone number in a copy of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera, not only ruining a perfectly good copy of Love in the Time of Cholera, but turning it into a plot device of this movie, just literally raping that book in the face like a criminal in the night. She says he will have to stop in every used book store that he sees and look for it, to which he should say, “No, I won’t, because I am an adult, and I don’t play games.”

Don’t ask. You don’t want to know.

There are some other things that happen and some more games that are played, but you’re not really going to make me explain them, are you? Let’s just say that they get separated, and years go by, and now they are both engaged to get married. But they are also both still thinking about each other for some completely hackneyed reason, although the real reason is that they are pieces of shit, because why are you going to get engaged when you so badly do not want to be engaged that you still fantasize about some dumbdumb that you met in the Bloomingdales Glove Department a thousand years ago? “We had so much in common! We both love ridiculously overpriced novelty desserts!” So John Cusack enlists the help of his friend Jeremy Piven (purrrfect) to track down Kate Beckinsale just days before his wedding, even though he still does not even know her name. And Kate Beckinsale travels to New York just days before her wedding because she just has a feeling that she needs to find John Cusack because one day in the rain she lit up a cigarette in front of a Cool Hand Luke poster.

WHAT A BUNCH OF WINNERS. LET’S ALL GET TRIPLE-MARRIED!

I would love to tell you that they never find each other, and that they both end up marrying the losers who don’t have the common sense to leave them because we are all adult human beings deserving of respect and self-worth in this world, and that very shortly into their marriageFAILs both of them are hit by buses and or airplanes, but naturally after many HILARIOUS near misses, they both call off their weddings and meet again in Central Park, where it is snowing but people are on roller-blades? The point is this movie sucks dick.

Oh man, don’t you guys hate it when you are reading a one page document and it takes you literally all day?

You could make a list of things that are awful about this movie, but I wouldn’t want to insult the grand tradition of lists. Obviously, the plot is contrived, the characters are two-dimensional, the concepts of both love and fate are misguided, childish, and insultingly stupid, and Jeremy Piven is in it. And the movie’s plot devices are so lazy as to be impossible. Like, Kate Beckinsale finds the magic five dollar bill again when she accidentally switches wallets with her friend. But she doesn’t notice she switched wallets until she got on an airplane. Really? Made it all the way onto an airplane after checking out of a hotel and going through an airport and never–oh, nevermind. Not to mention the plot device of an unfindable mystery person in a movie that features both cellphone and Internet technology, and Telly from Kids is in it:

And did I mention that it takes its name from an Upper East Side dessert store?

Is it possible for restaurants to kill themselves?

What I will applaud this movie for is that it does not delve into the Hollywood cliche of loving making people better. For example, at John Cusack’s Sham Engagement Party Dinner, Jeremy Piven makes a reference to how John Cusack long ago gave up on his college dream of becoming a documentary filmmaker, to which his parents shout “HERE HERE!” Now, in a normal romantic comedy, his love for Kate Beckinsale, and their magical reunion, would have reminded him that he should never have given up on his dream and that now he finally had the courage and confidence to do what he always wanted. Not so in Serendipity! As far as we know, John Cusack stays at his dull, miserable job. THIS MOVIE DOESN’T PLAY BY THE RULES!

Oh wow, subway trains looked so different back in ANCIENT 2001.

The funniest thing about Serendipity is the fact that it came out on October 5, 2001. OH NEAT. If you will recall, that was a period in American history when everyone thought of New York as the perfect place for desserts and romantic encounters. Do you guys remember how after 9/11 how Hollywood would try to digitally alter the movies from that in-between period, because God forbid the Twin Towers appeared in the background of a scene in Zoolander and send all of America into fits of PTSD? That was obviously stupid and ridiculous. But I would not be averse to digitally removing this ENTIRE MOVIE from the movie. It is just too painful. It is just TOO SOON.

Next week: Armageddon. As always, please leave your suggestions in the comments or in an email. And if you haven’t done so already, please consult the Official Rules.

Comments (129)
  1. woozefa  |   Posted on Feb 8th, 2010 +34

    i wonder if john cusack is going to use the hot tub time machine to go back and edit his name out of the credits of all the shitty movies he’s done in the last ten years.

  2. John Cusack is so rich you guys.

  3. “My cashmere gloves are too tight! And my expensive dessert is too cold! And the font size on my one-page document is too small!”
    What I am now convinced is the basic plot of Serendipity.

  4. So the moral of the story is that though Leo the Lop was different, normal is wherever you are?
    >

    • I want a pet Lop.

      • Make sure you adopt a bunny! Many rabbits are abandoned by jerks who buy their kids bunnies (most often for Easter) without realizing that a rabbit is an actual animal with needs and wants other than “enthusiastic squeezing.”

        Also you have to clean inside lops’ ears. TMYK.

        • I thought a lop was a pink dinosaur… is a lop a bunny? Because bunnies are cute but they ain’t pink dinosaurs.

          • Leo the Lop is part of the Serendipity Book series by Steven Cosgrove (?) about an extra-long-eared rabbit (a rabbit is a lop) surrounded by regular-eared rabbits and had a message about acceptance or something probably. I haven’t read it in many years.
             
            Serendipity is the name of the Pink Dragon who had her own book that I never got to read because my grandparents didn?t want me to turn out gay I guess? It did not work.

        • Ugh, that’s it: DONE WITH JERKS.

    • I’m glad I’m not the only person on earth who thinks of pink dragons and rabbits whenever that word comes up in conversation.

  5. Judging by the gif of Central Park ice skating, I would say this movie was not filmed in 2001, it was filmed in 28 Days Later.

    • (because it’s not very crowded, see? sigh — i should really have polished this one before posting it. really, really polished it good.)

  6. Seredipkitty

  7. John Cusack and Bruce Willis seem to just love making movies. They must have tons of cash hanging around, but they still seem to make 2 or 3 movies a year regardless of whether they’re any good or novel in any way.

  8. you know the Louis CK Promise and the Tracey Morgan Promise? we should have a Jeremy Piven Promise. the rules are opposite though. if he is in it, it is bad. the end. (i’ll even give up being entertained by PCU for this.)

    • The Tracy Morgan promise was broken by the crappy Deep in the Valley movie. Ugh woof etc. Terrible.

    • The Jeremy Piven Reverse Promise would have to be broken by Cupid. He’s long since worn away the small amount of good will a show on ABC for a year more than ten years ago garnered him, but still. That happened. And I liked him briefly.

  9. Dear Videogum Staff: I once again nominate the 2009 film Amelia starring Hilary Swank and Richard Gere for The Worst Movie of All Time. This is a truly awful film.

    This humorous gif serves well as a metaphor for my viewing experience of this film. Imagine if you will that I am this child:

    As the film began, I was enthusiastic and open to the film. I wished nothing but a satisfactory movie experience. However, as the film continued, I began to feel unease, which then turned to extreme discomfort, which then turned to queasiness. I knew within mere moments that the film would be long and agonizing and painful. And it was.
    I shall be here next week and every week with a similar message till this film?s inclusion is secure. Good day and thank you for your time.

    • Usually gifs make me a little sick, like queasy, due to their short repetitive nature, but this one is slightly longer and probably the funniest one I have EVER seen.

  10. You forgot to mention Jeremy Piven’s supporting character: Jeremy Piven’s toupee

    • except Jeremy Piven and his various hairpieces are SO HANDSOME! I might just have a weakness for douchebags but a pic like that just reminds me of being young and in crush. Remember when he was on Ellen? Oh Spence.

  11. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

  12. I really like how via gloves that can never be worn, this movie riffs on the classic O Henry story “Gift of the Magi,” except instead of magi it is cynical studio executives, and instead of gift it is vomit, and instead of O Henry it is O Please Crows Take My Eyes.

  13. I Nominate ‘Management’ Starring Jennifer Aniston and Steve Zahn.
    .
    I also nominate ‘The Mummy’ because of this guy:

  14. not enough stalker angels

  15. I went to that asshole parlor once.

  16. More like Serend-I-pity all of you poor souls who actually had to sit through this movie at some point.

  17. OH! Awful Jeremy Piven Movie: Very Bad Things. I’ve suggested it before but no one heard me? It’s not the worst…but I’ve tried watching it again and in a post Hangover world it just doesn’t even compare. but also it is the worst.

  18. if i were you i would not go to youtube, look up serendipity, watch the user generated video montages for songs from the film, and click the “show all 345 comments” link. i would not do this if i were you.

  19. I will gladly take my lumps for this, but I liked Serendipity. I even own it on DVD. There is something just dependable about the way John Cusak has played exactly the same character the last 15 or so years. I don’t have to stretch. And Kate Beckinsale can do no wrong in my book. You know, that’s a lie. Click was terrible.

    • have we learned NOTHING from tiptoes?!?

    • i hated serendipity until i watched the deleted scenes (because that’s what normal people do when they hate a movie, right?) and i think they really shouldnt have been taken out, because they actually helped make sense of the story and who the characters were. i would be mildly interested in hearing why they chose to edit it down to the released version.

      • Ya know, Once Upon a Time in America was panned until it was released in its original, unedited form. Could Serendipity actually be an American classic?

  20. Serendipawty

  21. Has Sweet November been done? I watched it recently because I hate myself. It’s terrible but at least I now get what itsahotdog is all about.

  22. Dear Gabe, I nominate P.S. I Love You – The mental plotline and Gerard Butler make baby Jesus cry

  23. i nominate forces of nature. i mean, just read this synopsis on imdb:

    “Ben Holmes, a professional book-jacket blurbologist, is trying to get to Savannah for his wedding. He just barely catches the last plane, but a seagull flies into the engine as the plane is taking off. All later flights are cancelled because of an approaching hurricane, so he is forced to hitch a ride in a Geo Metro with an attractive but eccentric woman named Sara.”

    geo metro? blurbologist? ben affleck? enough said.

  24. I haven’t actually SEEN Love Happens, but that doesn’t mean I’m not confident that it’s terrible. Will you do me a favor and watch it for me?

    (It takes place in Seattle, but they were only here for about 3 days filming token landmarks, like Pike Place Market and the Space Needle. And it didn’t even rain during those days, if you can believe that, so they sprayed the sidewalks to make it look like it had. Do not be fooled by their Hollywood trickery!!)

    • I keep getting confused when I see commercials for that movie, cause I’m like; “Didn’t that movie already come out a few years ago?”

      Then I remember that I’m thinking about Love, Actually….which is actually a movie whose inclusion in the WMOAT hunt I could get behind.

  25. you guys, two weeks ago i got SO PUMPED about reviewing this movie that i immediately wrote a word document full of sass and zings. but then my laptop died on thursday. all i know is that this movie is where john cusack went from “sensitivish dude i would dump immediately for being clingy” to “who could possibly find a way to love this man”

  26. Oh wait, are we allowed to nominate Paul Blart: Mall Cop, now that it’s on DVD?

  27. i nominate the following:
    - the net (sandra bullock)
    - fallen (denzel washington)

    • The Net was made for Gabe, Videogum, and The Worst Movie of All Time. Its basically a pop up hovering right above home plate.

      • Oh…that movie has not aged well. SB: Here let me save this virus onto my floppy disk (what are those?) and upload it onto the world WIDE web, but only if i have AT LEAST twenty mintues and access to a modem. Also I programed my computer to order me Pizza! time for a chat room chat! Big Brother is mean!

    • Let’s throw in Hackers while we’re at it. That movie is like The Net’s ADHD little brother.

      • shutchomouth! “hackers” blows my mind and is awesome. it’s the perfect hangover movie, kind of like “encino man” but also the opposite. but then i guess i also watch “icarly” when i’m hungover so perhaps my opinion is moot

  28. When I read, “The point is this movie sucks dick,” I was really taken aback. Anybody else feel the same? Let’s discuss.

  29. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

    • I like how you’re too adult to post, but your name is “marry me, gabe,” complete with exclamation point. YLIVG.

      • I checked “marry me, gabe!’s” past comments because I am a nerd. His/her caption contest submission: “Did he hear me queef?”
        Far too adult to post.

  30. You had me at, “You know, the truth is, I actually like romantic comedies.”

  31. I nominate Marie Antoinette.
    Sorry Jason Schwartzman, I love you, but this movie features a FORTY-MINUTE MONTAGE OF KIRSTEN DUNST. Indefensible.

  32. Just have to point out that Jeremy Piven was also in Grosse Point Blank with John Cusack, except that movie was funny and fun and had fantastic music (Joe Strummer as music supervisor! Yes, please!) and so Jeremy Piven doesn’t fuck up everything. But really Jeremy Piven is a douche and should have choked himself to death in the womb like Ashton Kutcher at the end of The Butterfly Effect.

    Whoops, forgot to make a joke! LOL! YOU CRAZY FOR THIS ONE, ME!

  33. Um, Gabe? How the hell did you just review Serendipity for WMOAT and not ONCE mention Jon Corbett’s pan flute wielding, world-touring, Viking video-making hippie?

  34. 1. Nothing But Trouble
    2.Bones
    3. The Anniversary Party
    thank you. (note, new avadah!)

  35. I hereby nominate Avatar as long as Pocahontas is not considered a popular superhero.

  36. I hereby nominate Avatar assuming Pocahontas is not considered a popular superhero.

  37. Oh hi guys! Million Dollar Baby and Chocolat; mentioned before by myself, but they should really be in the running for this thing. Just terrible, insulting movies.

    Also! It was pointed out to me that it flouted some of the very clear rules for this Hunt, but I still think It’s All About Love (the futuristic movie where Joaquin Phoenix is in love with ice skating superstar Claire Danes and all her clones, Sean Penn is addicted to flying in airplanes and people in African have to be tied to the ground so they don’t fly away) should merit some consideration.

  38. I nominate Tank Girl, without a doubt the most painful movie I have ever experienced

  39. More like Stupidipity!

    This film is worse than When Harry Met Sally

  40. I’m going to nominate Swimming Pool, even though I’m fairly sure that most of you haven’t had the misfortune of seeing it.

  41. i think that last picture shows jeremy piven realizing what an awful film he is in.
    …or he’s pooping.

  42. Can I nominate Nell? I don’t know if it’s ever been nominated.

  43. I absolutely must nominate The Love Guru again. I haven’t seen it, but I think Gabe should have to see it. Because I’m pretty sure it’s The Worst. Just think Gabe, once you find The Worst, you can end the hunt! With The Love Guru, that might just happen! (It won’t happen.)

    • I agree Tanis, I was on a Love Guru campaign but became slack. Thank you for reenergising me david caruso.

      Maybe Gabe sees it as too obvious, like shooting Tori Spelling in a barrell.

      Shoot the fish face Gabe, don’t hold back!

  44. Once again I am on my mission for Hamlet 2 to be featured here. It’s so bad! Please, hate it with me.

  45. I actually looooove this movie and despite your best efforts, nothing in this world can make me dislike it. I’ve watched it more times than I can count. Serendipaciousness to us all!!!!

  46. eagerly awaiting the Armageddon review…easily my most hated movie of all time. after I watched that movie I was angry that the government would send 2 astronauts and an entire team of oil drillers into space to save humanity. OIL DRILLERS! NASA doesn’t know how to operate a drill?

  47. I haven’t exhausted the entire WMOAT archives, so I may be mistaken, but I think Armageddon will mark the first WMOAT nominee actually included in the Criterion Collection. And a couple weeks down the road, I think Benjamin Button is also on the list. You crazy for this one, Criterion committee.

    • Does this mean anything in a grander, existential sense of WMOAT and its place and opinions versus popular culture? No. Not really.

  48. I am going to assume this is a joke, little Napoleon, because otherwise it means we’re failing you in your Monster education.

    But in case it’s not: lops! Or, here are some BABY LOPS.

  49. Can we please please please get some Matthew McConaughey movies on your list? Any of the following will do:
    The Wedding Planner, How to Lose a Guy in 10 days, Failure to Launch, Fools Gold

    jk liivin’

  50. I’d like to nominate Howard the Duck, please

  51. I saw (500) Days of Summer over the weekend, and would now like to nominate it.

  52. I nominate Factory Girl. ABYSMAL movie, absolutely perfect for the Hunt.

  53. Just watched What’s Eating Gilbert Grape and it’s easily one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen. It just isn’t entertaining. At all. (except for the 10 seconds or so that John C. Reilly is in it, but that’s just because he’s John C. Reilly) It’s kind of like if Napoleon Dynamite was a drama, but with far blander characters. A miserable, pointless movie.

  54. OMG OMG (ponies) I think I got one… Disclosure (1994) starring Demi Moore who turns on her computer geek ex-lover, Michael Douglas (because when you think computer security geek you think of his chin-cleave, am I right?) Not only does it insult the seriousness of sexual intimidation in the workplace in a vapid pop manner, far more importantly, it features Douglas HIDING from Moore in a virtual reality where important files are kept in virtual filing cabinets that you have to WALK to, because maybe the guy who invented the holodeck needed a new writing gig? Virtual reality in 1994… that reminds me that I’m late to take my hovercar to the teleportation android repairman.

  55. I am to the part where is wife to be gives him the book! Hah!

  56. I nominate The Chumscrubber. That movie is fucking RIDICULOUS. PLEASE do it.

  57. Do New York, I Love You

  58. I came across this movie on tv last night and watched it just to see if it really stinks as bad as Gabe said. OH BOY does it stink. Everything Gabe said, plus it’s horribly, horribly lit and filmed. It looks worse than the average cheap tv show from start to finish. John Cusack phones it in so much it’s an insult to phones (or something). Jeremy Piven and Molly Shannon and her grimace are terrible and charmless and unfunny in the ‘funny best friend’ parts. That douche from Sex and the City is in it playing an over-the-top douche, and he can’t even get that right!

    I do kind of love it when a movie introduces a plot point only to completely forget about it, as Gabe spotted with the ‘documentary filmmaker’ line above.

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