Friday, May 25, 2007


Check, please!

I don't see that many movies, so I really ought to choose them more carefully than by simply relying on second-hand reports that "it got really good reviews."

What, really, is all the fuss about Waitress? Written and directed by (and co-starring) Adrienne Shelley, the movie retells a now hackneyed story. Jenna (Keri Russell) is a waitress in a small southern town where she and her unearthly talent for creating new pies are squashed under the thumb of her domineering and unkissable brute of a husband. The movie opens with Jenna learning she is pregnant ("It must have been that one night six weeks ago when Earl got me drunk!") and therefore even more hopelessly trapped in her depressing situation. After a confidence-boosting fling with her OB-GYN instills her with a sense of self worth, Jenna realizes that she can toss her husband simply by telling him. The movie ends as Jenna, having fallen in love with her previously-unwanted new baby, decides to make her way in the world without the aid of men (other than a chance inheritance from the old curmudgeon pie shop owner -- a man).

There is nothing wrong with movies that recycle an old story, but you hope there is some fresh take on it, and Waitress is a very on-the-nose retelling. I think I saw a better version of this one as early as 1974 (Scorsese, Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore).

What passes for Waitress's "fresh take" on the oft-told story is a sort of Pecker-meets-Chocolat thing. Shelley tries to mingle a John Waters visual sensibility -- but only his camp 1950ish production values, without the edge or the shock -- with a foodie magical-realism schtick. But as much as I liked the cleverness of Jenna's running ruminations on new pie creations that tracked her moods and life events, that really didn't rise to the level of new insight into the old feminist morality tale.

The movie would have been unwatchably tedious -- as it is, I looked at my watch about 5 times, starting at 40 minutes in -- but for three things:
1) the satisfaction of seeing that ultra-creepy actor Jeremy Sisto ("Six Feet Under") is still being typecast as ultra-creeps;

Jeremy Sisto-4 u101a[1]
Sisto, left. Don't you like him for the biopic of Cat Stevens (right)?

2) seeing that ol' Andy ("Sheriff Taylor"/ "Matlock") Griffith is still alive and capable of playing an adorable geezer;

3) that director Shelley made the most of her greatest asset, giving us tons of closeups of too-beautiful-to-play-the-part actress Keri Russell.

Sorry, I just don't think the pies were that fresh.

I haven't seen it yet but I think it got a lot of hype due to the fact that Adrienne Shelly was murdered before the film came out. And lots of people remember her fondly from Hal Hartley's early films.
My review's finally posted at Brevity.

I think Sisto would make an excellent Cat Stevens, but I'm wondering how Cheryl Hines would do in a supporting role as Carly Simon. Not quite a dead ringer for her, but they have one feature in common.
Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Subscribe to Posts [Atom]