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.
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