Waitress

by Alan Rapp on February 14, 2011

in Movie Reviews , Theme Week

  • Title: Waitress
  • IMDB: link

A film about pies, all types of wonderful pies with funny names like “Pregnant Miserable Self Pitying Loser Pie,” and “I Can’t Have No Affair Because It’s Wrong & I Don’t Want Earl to Kill Me Pie.” 

If you haven’t eaten beforehand, and even if you did, this film will make your mouth water.  Add to that an off-beat love story, more than a little tragedy (mixed with more than a little humor), two extremely likable stars, and you’ve got a recipe for a film that is well worth your time and might by this year’s Little Miss Sunshine

Adrienne Shelly‘s final film is a tribute to her writing, directing and acting ability, and a bittersweet reminder that this is the last piece of pie on the counter.  Savor each bite.

Trapped in a loveless marriage to a complete jerk (Jeremy Sisto), Jenna (Keri Russell) discovers she’s pregnant.  Far from bringing her joy however, the news just makes her more sullen and sad as she sees nothing but an empty future

Then one day into her life strolls in a new doctor from up north.  Dr. Pormatter (Nathan Fillion) loves pies and, it seems, also has a taste for beautiful and tragic young women.  Their relationship slowly changes Jenna’s view of the world giving her hope that all things are possible

Jenna has simple wants, to enter one of her pies in a pie-eating contest, win enough money to get away from Earl, and start her life anew, perhaps opening her own diner.  Her two best friends are as luckless in love as Jenna.  Becky (Cheryl Hines) is married to a much older man who isn’t all there, and Dawn (Adrienne Shelly) can’t seem to find anybody to love except an annoying little man who is determined to wear her down with his spontaneous poetry (Eddie Jemison).

Aside from a couple slow moments the film works well from beginning to end.  I especially enjoyed the dark humor aspect of Jenna’s letters to her unborn baby and director Adrienne Shelly’s willingness to allow the character to have serious doubts and fears about raising a child.  Since her return from a brief hiatus Keri Russell has done mostly small supporting roles, but here (as fans of Felicity will remember) she shines in the lead role.  It’s a great performance that’s both sad and sweet, humorous and droll, much like the film.

And Fillion works well as the neurotic doctor.  With great comic timing and some nice on-screen chemistry with Russell he shows he can hold his own carrying a romantic comedy.  I’d much rather see him in roles like this than last year’s Slither.

Before I end the review I must mention the performance of Andy Griffith as the grumpy owner of the diner where Jenna works.  It’s a joy to see him back on screen.  He provides some of the most humorous moments of the film, and there’s a scene where he describes Jenna’s pies to her that is simply magic on screen.

Hopefully this small independent film won’t be swallowed up by the emerging summer blockbusters.  Yes, go see Spider-Man 3 and the rest, but leave a little room for desert and give Waitress a try.  You’ll be glad you did.  The movie has been playing in limited release over the past two weeks but opens today with a wider distribution.  Check your local listings to see if it is playing in your area.

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