Lightweight romance may appeal to teens.
  • Review Date: May 8, 2003
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Romance
  • Release Year: 2001
  • Running Time: 90 minutes

What parents need to know

Not applicable

Brief, non-graphic sexual situation, joke about a sex-change operation.


Mild language.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Smoking and drinking, some heavy.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this movie has smoking and drinking (including excessive drinking). A brief sexual situation is inexplicit and played for comedy. There is mild language. A gay character is portrayed sympathetically and without stereotypes. All lead characters are white and middle or upper class.

What's the story?

Serendipity is (1) a "happy accident" and (2) a New York restaurant that serves sweet, frozen goodies. It is #1 that brings our couple together, as both try to buy a pair of black cashmere gloves at Bloomingdale's, and #2 where romantic sparks fly when Sarah (Kate Beckinsdale) takes Jonathan (John Cusack) there to thank him for letting her have the gloves. There is a strong romantic connection, but both are involved with other people, so they part, with two romantic note-in-a-bottle opportunities for fate to bring them back together. He writes his name and number on a five dollar bill, which she puts back into circulation. And she writes her name and number in a copy of Love in the Time of Cholera, which she sells to a used book store. Years later, as both are about to get married, they are still drawn to each other. So we're in Sleepless in Seattle/When Harry Met Sally land, watching them just miss each other a dozen times until the happily-ever-after ending.

Is it any good?


SERENDIPITY is romantic confection with all the weight of a soap bubble, but it has all the sheen and charm of one, too. Cusack and Beckinsdale are just right, giving a small touch of bittersweet reality to the fairy tale. Sarah's insistence on letting fate determine the outcome could make her seem arbitrary and foolish, but Beckinsdale shows us that it is just the result of Sarah's struggle to overcome a deep romanticism. Cusack, always superb in showing us that same struggle makes Jonathan's quest to find Sarah genuinely touching.

The script wobbles at times. The respective fiancés are neither interesting enough to merit their screen time or awful enough to make us feel comfortable about seeing them get dumped. And the near-misses get a little overdone. Adept performances by sidekicks Molly Shannon and Jeremy Piven and by Eugene Levy as a persnickety Bloomingdale's salesman provide buoyancy. And cinematographer John de Borman captures New York City as a dreamy wonderland, with twinkling lights and floating snowflakes.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how we decide to take emotional risks, including the risk of appearing like a "jackass," and how we decide when to act and when to gamble on fate. They might also like to talk about whether there is such a thing as a soulmate, and how to recognize one.

Movie details

Theatrical release date:October 5, 2001
DVD release date:April 9, 2002
Cast:Jeremy Piven, John Cusack, Kate Beckinsale
Director:Peter Chelsom
Run time:90 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:a scene of sexuality, and for brief language

This review of Serendipity was written by

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Parent of a 7 and 10 year old Written bylightandlife November 13, 2009

Charming, Lovely Movie

This is one of my favorite movies to watch over and over again. I love the theme of love and fate. The movie is charming and lovely. The only part which I would warn parents about is the scene with the nude couple in the house, but you don't see any private body parts being shown. I really enjoyed this movie the first time and the many times I've seen it since. Worth watching, for sure!
What other families should know
Too much sex
Teen, 14 years old Written bydancingwithmyself April 9, 2008

Good for winter

good for the holidays
Parent Written by915072 May 13, 2013


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