- User Rating: Excellent
Bang For The Buck
Pros:Refreshing, original and not a III.
Cons:Director was murdered and won't be directing any more films
The Bottom Line: In a summer of sequels, Waitress serves a refreshing film that goes down easy as pie.
In a summer of sequels of the third order, Waitress stood out as a charming refreshing film, and the first five star film I have seen this summer. No pirates, no superheros nor super villians and certainly no fairytale, Waitress is just an honest look at the not so charming life of one, Jenna, an unhappily married waitress at a diner.
When we first meet Jenna, she and two other waitresses, Becky (Cheryl Hines) and Dawn (Adrienne Shelly) who work at Joe's Pie Diner are complaining about their lot in life. Jenna (Keri Russell) is an attractive young lady, but seems to have lost her way in life, stuck with a brute of a husband, Earl (Jeremy Sisto) and a strict boss, Cal (Lew Temple). To top it off, she finds out that she is pregnant, and her gynecologist has retired leaving her with a brand new doctor, Dr. Pomatter (Nathan Fillion).
Jenna has one escape in life, she can bake pies that everyone loves. If she could enter and win a pie contest in a neighboring town, she could use the money to leave her husband and start a better life for her and her unwanted baby. Frequent vignettes in the film show Jenna making pies for all occasions in her life, like I hate my husband pie, Earl murders me because I'm having an affair pie and pregnant miserable self pitying loser pie. Once she discovers she is pregnant, we also get to hear Jenna's thoughts as she writes letters to her unborn baby.
The film was directed by Adrienne Shelly, who also plays Dawn a shy young waitress. It is a shame to the film world that this promising new director was murdered last year, because this film really captures people and emotions. As her film unfolds, the camera focuses on the people both figuratively and literally. Even though the film has an indie feel to it, all the camera shots are steady, none of that indie hand held shaky cameras that give me a headache.
**********MINOR PLOT SPOILERS*************
Although Jenna at first doesn't think much of her new doctor as we watch their faces and expressions we see something under the surface. Their words say nothing, but their faces betray underlying frustrations and thoughts of salvation in each other. I was amazed at how that was captured and you knew it was there even before Jenna and Dr. Pomatter grab each other and kiss passionately.
Adrienne's own character Dawn shows a remarkable vulnerability as a young woman who has low self esteem and ends up dating someone that she really doesn't consider as her type. Ogie (Eddie Jemison) does a terrific job as a sort of geeky man who manages to win Dawn and turn out to be a good guy after all.
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I really loved the way the characters in this film came to life. Andy Griffith appears as Old Joe, the man who owns Joe's Pie Diner, and at first he just appears as a grumpy old man who is too demanding. Jenna takes the time to know him though, and we find out that Old Joe has wisdom from his years, and if Jenna only listens to it, things may change for her. I also enjoyed that even the characters that most films would treat as cardboard cutouts of the "bad" guys are allowed moments of humanity. Jeremy Sisto as Earl shows a man you wouldn't feel sorry to see taken out. He is abusive, manipulative and stupid. Yet, we are allowed to see in some scenes the underlying insecurities that make him the horrible husband that he is. Lew Temple as the diner's boss and cook at first seems like a man who just barks out orders, but we even get to glimpse into his soul in this film when Jenna asks him honestly if he is happy. Cals answers was one of the highlights of the film.
The acting in Waitress was all just top notch, and you really get a feel for all the characters and find yourself rooting for or against things to happen in the film. I also found the ending to be very satisfactory, and left this movie feeling excellent.
If you are as sick as I am of sequels and mindless Hollywood blockbusters, check out Waitress. It truly was a refreshing charming film that went down as satisfactory as the pies that Jenna made in the film.
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Movie Mood: Feel-good Movie