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Movie Review: Waitress

Written and directed by Adrienne Shelly
Fox Searchlight, 2007

Adrienne Shelly (pictured, center) was murdered November 1, 2006 in her Manhattan apartment.  When I heard news of it, I was probably like most people and said, “Who’s Adrienne Shelly?”  I hadn’t seen any of her movies, either written, directed, or starred in.  And when this movie came out in a May limited release, I thought, “Well, it’s her last film, Fox decided to push it in honor of her.”  The trailer looked decent, but it just wasn’t something I felt I needed to make an extra trip to see.

And the movie got great reviews, but cynicism creeped in.  Were people giving the movie a pass because the writer/director was taken before her time?  I waited to watch Waitress after all the potential for merely “giving it a pass” was gone.

Southern waitress Jenna (Keri Russell) finds out that she’s pregnant with her husband Earl’s (Jeremy Sisto) baby, something she’s none to happy about since Earl is your basic wife-abuser.  The only people she can turn to are her fellow waitress friends, Becky (Cheryl Hines) and Dawn (Shelly).  She decides she’s keeping the baby, but not tell Earl.  Of course, this is a plan that can’t possibly work, but she’s content not to tell him until the last minute.

Her usual OB-GYN is in “semi-retirement,” so there’s a new doctor in town, Dr. Pomatter (Firefly’s Nathan Fillion).  It’s not long after some examinations and useless small talk that she and Pomatter start getting it on.  Jenna now has to deal with a bad husband, an affair with her doctor, and of course the little matter of being pregnant and the difficulties involved with that.

Jenna is an expert piemaker, and the movie is filled with interludes where she makes pies named after whatever emotion she’s feeling at the time.  She could win a contest probably, if Earl ever let her enter one.

It’s an observational movie with a simple plot, but it’s an extremely winning one.  Keri Russell is very good and memorable, along with her cohorts Hines and Shelly.  Oftentimes funny mixed with sweetness that could have bordered on saccharine, Waitress ends up being one of the best movies this year.  I especially liked the ending.  And it’s the kind of movie that made me finally realize the loss of Shelly, who might have gotten her big break with this film.

I can truly say, without the added-on drama, that this movie is worth a look.


Comment from Sam Loomis
Time: December 19, 2007, 7:55 pm

Good to know. I’ve had this sitting by the DVD player for a month now; one of those films the wife wants to watch too, but she always decides to watch something else instead when we have a second. Looking forward to it whenever I’m actually allowed to watch it.

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