Saturday, May 26

Talking pictures: Waitress

At times it is perfectly clear that there is a justice deficiency in the world. Just in case I'd forgotten, this weekend I was strongly reminded.

After sitting through a sold-out viewing of the bloated, chaotic, and stupid mess that is Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, I later went to see Adrienne Shelly's Waitress. I believe there were a grand total of eight warm bodies in the theater. Without a doubt, Waitress was one of the better films I have seen this year.

Much of the early buzz surrounding the movie revolved around the 2006 murder of its writer-director-actress Adrienne Shelly, an unavoidable topic that unfortunately could have overshadowed the film. However, Waitress excels to such an extent that the knowing audience can easily forget this attached baggage.

Warning: minor spoilers ahead

At its core the movie is Just Another Romantic Comedy™, but it far surpasses the typical Roberts-Ryan-Grant-Law brand of the genre. Protagonist Jenna (Keri Russell) is an unhappy waitress with a gift for pie-making who finds herself trapped in an awful marriage. She and coworkers Becky (Cheryl Hines) and Dawn (Shelly) provide much of the film's quirky charm with their banter, with grumpy but endearing Old Joe (Andy fucking Griffith) gamely taking part as well.

Much of the plot revolves around Jenna's desire to escape her marriage, a plan which is sidetracked by an unexpected pregnancy. However, said pregnancy also sparks an unexpected romance with her doctor (Nathan Fillion of "Firefly"/Serenity and "Lost") that only serves to complicate matters. This relationship provides many of Waitress's sweeter moments, but not without the bittersweet as well. There are laughs to spare, as well as episodes of intensity and dread courtesy of Jenna's controlling husband Earl (Jeremy Sisto of "Six Feet Under"). Not since Little Miss Sunshine do I recall leaving a theater so charmed and satisfied by a film, and I sincerely hope it achieves a similar level of success.

If swordplay and swashbuckling is more your speed, Waitress may not be the film for you. However, if you appreciate small films with big hearts then I'd recommend you give this one a shot. Waitress is currently playing in select theaters. The trailer is on YouTube.

Bonus mp3:

The Eames Era - Year of the Waitress


Blogger Paul said...

Films like this never get released where I live unfortunately. I've read a lot about Waitress, but mostly regarding what you mentioned in your post about the director's murder.

That leaves me with watching crap like Pirates of the Caribbean. Which I watched at midnight, just because I like being excited about summer movies. It was indeed crap though, and looks like they'll be milking Jack Sparrow dry in future installments.

3:14 AM

Blogger Rich said...

Ya, one thing that actually surprised me is that I saw Waitress at one of our megaplex theaters and not at the art cinema.

I think the next film like this I'm really looking forward to is Once. Hopefully that will come here soon.

11:07 AM

Blogger alex said...

I saw Pirates, too. I was invited/dragged, and my reasons for avoiding movie theaters on Friday and Saturday nights were confirmed. The film was way drawn out, and the mutiny back and forth got a little confusing, and I kinda forgot what happened in the first two.

Waitress was awesome. Did you find yourself immediately going to Kroger to buy pie? It might take a few days, but the craving will overcome you. I heard they made a Law & Order about the director's death.

Other great movies I saw and recommend: Mr. Brooks and Severance. Both about killers, both with a little humor. Severance was funnier and had a no-name Brit cast but was awesome. And Kevin Costner didn't ruin Mr. Brooks. I hate most of his films.

3:12 PM

Blogger Chad said...

I LOVED Waitress, definitely one of my favorites so far in 2007. I just wish they had released a soundtrack, as that song she sings to her child near the end is just heartbreaking.

4:11 PM

Blogger Rich said...

Chad, I had the same thought. Checked the IMDB site and looked around when I got home to see if there is a soundtrack. There were several songs in the film I noticed. Guess I'll have to wait until the DVD release to see who they were.

And you're right about the song she sings.

5:12 PM


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