Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Waitress

Firecracker had been bugging me to watch Waitress because she knows a set designer in it (Megan Baptiste), and of course because it's a refreshing romantic comedy-drama. Not to be confused with 1981's Waitress!, a Troma feature before they went all gore disgusto, this has a bevy of amusing characters in a small-town "pie diner," where they serve 26 kinds of pie and specials daily. Sounds like a fatboy's fairy tale, and the film does have that quality, reminiscent of the TV series "Pushing Daisies" minus the supernatural. The movie guarantees some laughs, and a case of the munchies. I like me some pie.
This had better not be another goddamn pie cookbook.

The story centers on Jenna (Keri Russell), a gifted pie baker working at a diner saddled with an unappreciative, control-freak husband, who finds out that she's knocked up. She inhabits the role so well that you forget she's acting. The emphasis is more on comedy than drama, and the cast is uniformly good. Andy Griffith plays a curmudgeonly old goat who owns the diner, Cheryl Hines (from "Curb Your Enthusiasm") plays a delightfully ditzy waitress, and Nathan Fillion (from "Firefly", and every nerd's secret man-crush) plays her new ob-gyn.
I just can't quit yer pie.

He later gets to inspect her in a less professional manner, and you keep wondering when hubby Earl, played as an abusive jerk by Jeremy Sisto, is going to find out and go postal. But he's not a Lifetime villain, he's a man with cripplingly low self-esteem, who has to control the one person who loved him so he can have some sort of self-worth. Even the jerk is well written. The director (Adrienne Shelly) plays a small part as a bespectacled co-worker who gets hitched with the town weirdo. Ogie, played by Eddie Jemison, is one of the funniest parts of the film; he starts out like a creepy stalker, but the script once again throws you a curve and lets him develop his eccentricities.
The douche and duchess

The set design and the awesome pies make the three-set movie nice to look at, and although it's a bit twee, it's still an enjoyable movie. It got a lot of hype after the director was murdered before it was released, and perhaps got overrated because of the pathos, but it's still a well-directed film and a good story. The script has a lot of clever dialogue, and may get predictable in places, but never bored me once. She may get a little over-empowered by the end, but it doesn't ruin what happened previously. This is a good way to spend 1¾ hours with some good comedic actors playing some likable characters.
If you don't stop whistlin' that theme song I'm gonna go Matlock on your ass.

Unfortunately, we've been robbed of seeing any more imaginative comedies from Adrienne Shelly. Diego Pillco, a 19-year old construction worker, strangled her to death when she caught him robbing her apartment. He was working on another apartment in the building, and went in to rifle through her purse. He even faked it as a suicide, hanging her up by a bedsheet in the shower. He's currently serving 25 years to life without parole. Perhaps one day he'll be found hanging in the shower there.


5 comments:

Cinexcellence said...

Nice review; I really enjoyed Waitress. And how about that lost shot? Very Charlie Chaplin in Modern Times.

Welcome to the LAMB!

Andy C. said...

As you know, Kimhotep is quite possibly usually less interested in romantic comedies than I am, so it may be a while (if ever) before I see it - but at least I won't run screaming if there's nothing else on.

Did you ever see Adrienne Shelley in either of her roles in Hal Hartley's early films? (The Unbelievable Truth and Trust)

I haven't seen either in a number of years, so it might be the residual film school geek talking, but I always found Hal Hartley's early style strangely compelling. Simple Men was good too, although Shelley wasn't in that one.

tommy salami said...

Cin- thanks for the welcome!

Andy, all I've seen is Henry Fool, which she wasn't in. It's his best-known film, have you seen it?

J.D. said...

I really dig this film too and it sucks that Adrienne Shelly is not around to make more of the same.

I agree with Andy C., she was great in Hartley's early films - definitely his muse for awhile there. It's a shame they didn't do more together.

sarah said...

I only remember her from Big Girls Dont Cry. She played a pregnant chick.

Shout out to Meghan and her wonderful set painting!

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