It's quite fitting that I saw Waitress only one week after seeing the Judd Apatow comedy Knocked Up as both movies share very similar themes and make for a fascinating double bill. Where Knocked Up showed the nightmare of being pregnant to a guy you hardly know, Waitress depicts a women who becomes pregnant by someone she does know... and wants desperately to get away from. Keri Russell steps out from her small role in Mission Impossible III to plays Jenna, a wife to a real abusive arsehole of a husband (Earl, played by Jeremy Sisto) and a waitress of a pie shop where she waits tables and gets to make her own speciality pie every day. Her pies look amazing and they are affectionately shown to us on each occasion in yummy advert style glamour as Jenna hilariously thinks up different recipes in her head. Her only way out from her unhappy marriage is to enter the pie making contest and win $25 grand to sneak out and star a new life elsewhere but when she discovers she is pregnant, those plans become a little difficult. The rest of the movie follows Jenna as she decides to continue with the pregnancy even though she hates the idea of having a baby to a man she no longer loves. A fling soon occurs with her new doctor played by Nathan Fillon, in probably the quietest and most under-stated performance of his career. If her husband finds out, she's dead. If there's one criticism that I can make about the film it's that it doesn't quite know what it wants to be. It doesn't quite know if it wants to be a movie about an abusive husband, a movie about working in a dead-end job, a movie about having an affair with your doctor or a movie about the struggle of having an unwanted baby. It's kind of about all four of them, which always means there's something going on but you might find more aspects of the story more interesting than others, and switch off on occasion. The supporting cast too might be the dullest ever put together though and it fails to add those extra sentimental moments this movie sometimes lacks. The two supporting waitresses', the manager of the shop, the owner of the store, the stalker to one of the waitresses' are all cookie-cutter characters with very little depth and they seem to be there just to fill in the edges. Every time one of them appeared on screen I felt the movie lost it's pace and momentum which is surely behind Russell and her plight. Tragedy of course has marred this film which has been incredibly well received by critics. The director Adrienne Shelley who also starred in the movie was tragically murdered late last year by her neighbour who was angry at her for complaining about the noise he was making. I can't say I know too much about Shelley and her past filmography but I can say that this was an enjoyable film that didn't make me look at my watch ten times like so many of 2007's summer blockbusters. It's real sad she isn't around to see how well her movie has gone down with people.
Waitress might too bitter-sweet for some audiences tastes and it will be a tough one to digest if you are put off by the overly cute dialogue and a couple of uninteresting characters but there's enough of a story to draw you in and make it enjoyable. Think Little Miss Sunshine for tone and if you liked that then this will be fore you, just don't expect it to be quite as good.