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If Hollywood’s response to terrorism will be to exile harsh reality in favor of the pretty side of life, the result may turn out to look like Serendipity. God forbid. Does romantic comedy have to come off as sugared stupidity? It does here. Even the appeal of co-stars John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale can’t keep this love boat from sinking.

It’s Christmas in Manhattan — yes, the Twin Towers have been removed — and Jonathan (Cusack) and Sara (Beckinsale) meet cute while shopping (Eugene Levy earns the film’s only laughs as a sadistic salesman). They flirt cute by refusing to exchange names. They part cute when Sara insists that if they’re meant to be together, fate will intervene. She writes her name in a book; he does the same on a five-dollar bill. Ten years later, Jonathan and Sara still pine for each other, even though she’s engaged and he’s about to get married. It’s up to the once-talented director Peter Chelsom (Funny Bones)-who must shoulder blame for this turkey and Town and Country– to goose destiny for the lovers. Isn’t that cute? Enough to make you cringe.

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