If anything, I've been a victim of my own high expectatons so far this summer. Both "Spider-Man 3" and "Shrek 3," though for very different reasons, failed to deliver what I wanted.
And I had almost equally high expectations going into "Waitress," partly because Adrienne Shelly's last movie had been getting such good reviews and partly because it just looked like a movie about Southerners who act like the people I see here everyday. And for the first time this summer, I certainly wasn't disappointed.
It didn't hurt that, for the 10 a.m. showing Saturday morning (man, do I love summer!), we were the only two people there. Though it takes place in a somewhat-too-sugary version of the real world, Shelly's movie works best as a fairy tale, and the private screening somehow just made it seem even moreso.
But, before I get ahead of myself, a little about the very familiar story. Keri Russell plays the titular "Waitress," who finds herself stuck in a loveless marriage and rather unfortunately pregnant. When she goes to see her OB/GYN to talk about it, she finds there's a new doctor in town, played by Nathan Fillion (huzzah!)
And when Shelly's movie works best is when they're on screen together. The problem I have with most romantic comedies is that there's no real chemistry between the leads, but Keri and Captian Mal just click here. She doesn't quite have the "aw shucks!" to pull off your classic Southern waitress, but Shelly doesn't make her. Keri's Jenna is a little too beaten down by life for that, and she plays it very well. And Captian Mal gives the doctor just enough character to get you past the considerable ick factor that he's a married man pitching woo at one of his OB/GYN patients.
And the supporting cast pitch in well here too. Jeremy Sisto, who you might remember as Billy on "Six Feet Under," is appropriately menacing as Jena's husband, but never a cartoonish figure. One thing I liked was how his honking the horn to announce his arrival anywhere steadily grows from funny to dangerous. And Andy Griffith, who I'm always a sucker for, is just perfect as the diner owner and Jena's father figure.
Now, don't get me wrong: This isn't a perfect movie. In parts, especially when it comes to Shelly's fellow waitress and her nerdy suitor, it's too cute by half, and the pie-making as scene framing never quite works. And, like I said, you won't find anything here you haven't seen before. But as escapist summer fare, it's lighter than air in all the best ways, and a great way to spend a couple of hours.
And best of all, it's so enjoyable that I didn't even think about the death of Adrienne Shelly until we were heading out to the parking lot. For anyone who doesn't know, Shelly was murdered last fall in her NYC apartment after having the nerve to ask her neighbor to turn down his radio. As a parting gift to us, she really could have done a whole lot worse than this sweet pastry.
Sunday, May 27, 2007
Posted by Reel Fanatic at 9:33 AM