“Waitress” is one of the more beguiling pictures of the year, and I can see why it’s been popular with audiences. It’s not a great film by any means, but an extremely likeable one, and in this day and age, that’s nothing less than a small miracle.
Jenna (a luminous Keri Russell) is a waitress at a small restaurant in the South. She is married to a controlling husband Earl (Jeremy Sisto) and dreams of leaving him when she discovers she is pregnant. The rest of the movie details her reaction to this (thanks to a series of amusing voiceovers as she writes down her thoughts to her baby in a diary) and her relationship with her new OB-GYN (Joss Whedon favorite Nathan Fillion). Of course the diner is full of quirky characters including fellow waitresses Cheryl Hines (making up for her appearance in the execrable Robin Williams comedy “RV”) and writer-director Adrienne Shelley. The restaurant’s owner is played by crusty old meanie Andy Griffith, but Jenna sees through his bluster.
Because Jenna is a whiz in the kitchen when it comes to making pies, there are many scenes of her preparing specialty pies with uncommon names like “The I Hate Earl Pie”. (They look scrumptious and I thought about driving to Baker’s Square for dinner afterwards, but settled for Taco Bell instead.) Don’t go see this movie if you’re hungry.
I liked Sisto’s portrayal of the controlling husband quite a bit. He’s not sympathetic, and Sisto doesn’t try to make us like him, but he makes us understand him, and how he doesn’t see his behavior as anything extreme.
Russell is absolutely wonderful and her scenes with Fillion have a special charm about them. I would like to see them work together again.
This was Shelley’s last film before being tragically murdered before the film’s Sundance premiere. As a lyricist for the pie song that Jenna sings throughout the movie, it’s clear she had many talents – actress, writer, director and lyricist. I liked her and the film a lot and plan on checking out her past filmography to see what I may have missed.
Rating for “Waitress”: Three stars.