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"Waitress"

Directed by Adrienne Shelly.
Written by Adrienne Shelly.
Starring Keri Russell, Nathan Fillion, Cheryl Hines and Jeremy Sisto.
Release Year:  2007
Review Date:  5/17/07

Folks--

Our Wednesday-night softball game cancelled, I had a bit of a window to fill since I was amped up to do something but not so amped that I wanted to hit a club downtown.  So, I drove to the art house theater near my apartment and decided to see "Waitress", the new comedy with Keri Russell ("Felicity") as...a waitress.

Sure, there were other options, and upon reflection now, I should have probably gone to see "Hot Fuzz" again, because THAT was fucking hilarious.  Not so much for "Waitress", a kooky comedy that is quite short on laughs and had a chemistry issue with our three waitress leads matched with a romantic angle that always makes me gag...the combination of all of this left me hangin', even if the film is quite watchable as you wait to see how this will all wrap up.

Russell stars as Jenna, a waitress at a local diner somewhere in the deep South; along with two other unlucky souls (played by Cheryl Hines and the writer/director of "Waitress", Adrienne Shelly), Jenna toils away all day for shitty tips and an even shittier boss (Lew Temple).  To top off this lovely day-to-day affair, she has to go home to Earl (Jeremy Sisto), a bastard's bastard who treats Jenna about as badly as a toilet bowl gets treated by shit and emotionally beats Jenna just about every chance he gets.  When the film opens, we learn that Jenna is in her sixth week of pregnancy, so she begins visits at the local doctor's office and commences regular sessions with her new doctor, Dr. Pomatter (Nathan Fillion, from "Serenity" and "Slither").  Thanks to Jenna's problems at home and the good doctor's natural inclination to cheat on his wife, they begin an affair while Jenna goes through her shitty life cycle each and every day.

It should be noted that I always have problems with films where affairs are just this accepted way of life, as apparently there are no faithful couples in the movies (never have been, never will be); in "Waitress", pretty much everyone is cheating on everyone, and that's just the way it should be, right?  Worse, in "Waitress", it appears that Fillion's character has a wife who loves him and is faithful to him, so we are left to be amused by how much he enjoys humping the Russell character.  Ugh.  I'll admit, this might be funny to those who can relax and sit back and enjoy people cheating on each other, but not for me.

The bigger problem I had with "Waitress" was that the first 30 minutes of the film REALLY suck.  Our theater probably only had 30-40 people in it, but no one was laughing, or for that matter, even breathing, during the first half-hour, and I think that was because nothing interesting, funny, cool, dramatic, or worthwhile was going on.  Shelly might know her pies--watching people make pies is maybe the film's strongest asset for a food lover like myself--but I don't think her ability to build momentum in a film is strong enough to match that pie knowledge.  I just never got the feeling that Jenna would ever call her two other waitress buddies friends; I never got into the fact that Andy Griffith--bless him for even being in this film--could be a dirty old man; he's fucking MATLOCK, for Chrissakes!!!  The last five minutes of "Waitress" really blow; there are way too many scenes that establish Jenna's husband as a bad guy.  After a while, they only infuriate sensible adults and Shelly could have made her point about that character with two scenes instead of six or seven.

I did laugh occasionally; Fillion does have fantastic comic timing.  And, I like chocolate, even if I don't like pies, so every so often, there are beautiful "damn, that XXXX looks good!" moments that work.  But overall, "Waitress" dropped the ball for me.  I almost saw this at Sundance, too, so I guess I got lucky to skip it after all.

Rating:  Rental

 

Comments?  Drop me a line at justin@bellviewmovies.com.

 

Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/bellviewmovies.com except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09