Waitress
Director: Adrienne Shelly
Writer: Adrienne Shelly
Producer: Michael Roiff
Starring: Keri Russell, Nathan Fillion, Jeremy Sisto, Cheryl Hines, Andy Griffith, Adrienne Shelly
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Running time: 107 min
read my spoiler disclaimer



reviewed by Andrew James
     Do audience members see the trailer for these films or do they laugh hardest at the parts they've already seen in said trailers to mess with my head? I didn't find much particularly funny or laughable thoughout this picture. Oh it definitely has charm, but the charm isn't enough to make it a really worth-while experience. Having said that, the mostly female and over 55 year-old crowd I sat with would probably disagree.

      Jenna is a sweet girl with a boring life and a jackass of a husband. She's allowed to work as a waitress in a pie shop for a few extra bucks each month. Here is where she spends most of the day not working, but bantering with her co-workers (her only two friends in the whole world) played by Adrienne Shelly and Cheryl Hines. She also makes a dynamite variety of delicious pies - some of the best in the whole world. Jenna soon finds that she is pregnant and visits the doctor for confirmation and a check-up. The new doctor is a young, handsome man (Fillion) that Jenna takes a liking to almost right away. The feelings are mutual and so starts a sweet little affair between the two.

      The film is cute; there's no denying that fact. It's also got loads of heart and charm. You can tell the actors had a good time making the film and it does have some nice chuckles sprinkled here and there. However it doesn't have any of the laughs that I was expecting. Even Nathan Fillion (which was really the only reason I stepped foot into the theater in the first place) can't help bring comic relief where and when it is needed most.

      The picture tries to be a light-hearted drama but ends up just being kind of forgettable. The scenes with Jenna's husband, played by Jeremy Sisto, are meant to evoke a sense of forboding, darkness and general uneasiness. The scenes aren't terribly powerful as Sisto's character is, although a creep, not the worst guy on the planet. There is very little physical abuse (just one slap across the cheek) and the other mentally abusing scenes don't strike me as particularly atrocious. The guy is just a dumb-ass who doesn't really seem to know any better. He doesn't realize he's hurting her so much with his words and actions. Because of this, I can't tell what the film was really trying to accomplish. Is it a comedy or a drama? Or is it a dramedy? To be honest, I don't think it's any of those things; it's just sort of... there.

      The one strength of the film are some of the actors. Keri Russell of course really stands out as a positive to the entire effort. Her looks and charm are natural and are a perfect fit for this role. Unfortunately, the director uses her inappropriately at times in some acting gags that just kind of irked me more than made me smile. Fillion, again, is just sort of there and is not the usual charismatic presence he usually is on screen. A stand out, in my opinion, would have to be Andy Griffith as a codgery, dirty old-timer with words of wisdom for Jenna in between barking orders for more water and pie. I haven't seen Griffith in years and it was a real pleasure to see him in this role. Hines and Shelly (who was also the director) play Jenna's best friends. These two played more like characters from a Pixar movie than real people. They pretty much drove me nuts anytime they were on screen and were completely unbelievable (which is a shame because I like Hines in her other roles).

      Many scenes of the film are spent with Jenna imagining a new pie recipe to metaphorically represent something going on in her horrible little existence. A "I want to kill my husband" pie for example, or a "I realy don't want a filthy little baby around my house" pie. These scenes are not all that cute (in my opinion) and just had me rolling my eyes. Still, I like the general thought behind this idea and I think some may find this little treat amusing. All it did for me was make my stomach growl.

      It's difficult for me to rip this film because, as I said, it does have heart and charm. And let's be honest, it really wasn't made for my demographic anyway. The women in the audience seemed to really enjoy things as they went along. Maybe because there isn't really one decent guy in the entire picture. they're all shown as abrasive, cruel, dorky, mean, bossy or just plain cheaters. Women eat that stuff up (no pun intended) and when it's all devilishly put together with delicious pies and strong women to make that point, they're going to go along with every second of it.

      I also find it hard to bash the film as writer/director Shelly was murdered last November and I try to have some respect for the recently departed's work. I also feel that if given a bit more time to mature and gain experience, we might've been looking at the first major motion picture of one of the better female directors of the next decade.

      Guys, stay away. It's not bad by any stretch but it's nothing that will warrant your ten dollars. And ladies, have a good time with it but also realize this is one that will probably work just as well (if not better) as a DVD viewing in the comfort of your own home. And please people, for the love of God... stop laughing uproariously at the scenes we've seen 6 or 7 times in the previews. They're not that funny to begin with.



Press "PLAY" to watch the trailer


Links:
IMDb.com - full cast and crew
Official Site
FLIXSTER PROFILE for Waitress




 





andrew@moviepatron.com