According to the movie, “Serendipity” means “a happy accident”, but most of the accidents that occurred therein did not seem especially happy to me. Maybe just the first and last accidents seemed happy at all. The first was simple, elegant, and charming. In a crowded department store, hundreds of people consumed with the real spirit of Christmas (trying to figure out what obligatory gift to get for that near-stranger from work because they got YOU something in the first place), and we follow an accidentally mis-filed pair of black cashmere gloves downstairs and through this human chaos to where they get put on the appropriate rack and stay there for nary a second before:
Happy Accident Number One: Boy wants to buy pair of gloves for his girlfriend. Girl wants to buy pair of gloves for herself. The last pair of black cashmere gloves (apparently the last pair, ever) gets grabbed simultaneously by both boy and girl, and they are linked together for the first time by the tiny plastic hook holding one glove to the other.
They immediately find each other charming, and as you should have seen by now in countless trailers and TV spots, they spend a wonderful evening together, doing all sorts of cute romantic things and getting to know each other without going into too many details. Like last names. They end up writing their phone numbers down and not exchanging them, but instead putting them into circulation on money and inside a used book, with the idea that if they were “destined” to be together, the money and book would somehow reach the right hands. Of course, they don’t.
Seven years pass, and their lives go on, and they keep their eyes open for vandalized money and used books with other people’s notes in them, but somehow it never comes together. By this time, you really want them to be together, and you know how movies work, so you know that somehow they must come together. The rest of the movie serves the purpose of slowly convincing you that the overwhelming role of “destiny” is to keep these people apart. Every little thing that (some sad movie producer somewhere thinks) must be “happy accidents” seem only to create hundreds of very-close-but-not-quite connections between them.
Molly Shannon is introduced to drive the “happy” intention of these accidents home, only slipping once or twice out of character and into the sort of character that made her famous (but always just seemed annoying to me). The story is very well choreographed, and the initial romance really helps to draw you into every little reminder of their one night together and every wrong turn they take on each other’s trail. As the possibility of their finding each other before it is too late becomes increasingly hopeless, you are drawn down into hopelessness with them. The emotional impact of their story is very well crafted.
As for “Happy Accident Number Two”, you’ll have to wait to see exactly what that is, but let me just say that annoying cell phones interrupting romantic horse-drawn carriages are not always a bad thing. If you like romantic comedies and the idea of fate having a hand in true love, you’ll really like this movie. I really liked it.