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Waitress is a great, funny movie starring Keri Russell as a small-town
waitress who discovers that she's pregnant just as she's planning to
leave her jealous, controlling husband. The typical Hollywood approach
for a movie like this would be to film it in ultra-serious "movie of
the week" mode, but writer/director/actor Adrienne Shelly chose to tell
her story in an extremely stylized, almost fairy-tale style. The
stylized dialogue, super-sharp photography and primary-color palette
even reminded me of the movies of Joel & Ethan Coen at times, but in
the end, this movie packs an emotional punch that the Coen brothers
have rarely achieved. It also features a brilliant (and brilliantly
human) performance by Andy Griffith as the horny old geezer who owns
the diner where Russell works.
This movie has a good chance at achieving a Little Miss Sunshine-style breakout this year. It's funny, quirky and honestly touching. Waitress stands as a fine legacy for Adrienne Shelly, but if things had been different, it could have been the movie that launched her into the mainstream instead of her swan song.
Greetings again from the darkness. Very personal and intimate story
from the very talented Adrienne Shelly. Ms. Shelly was tragically
murdered before the film was released, but what a legacy and gift she
left for her husband, daughter and film lovers.
Keri Russell ("Felicity") stars as Jenna, a fabulous pie maker who is a lost soul married to the world's worst husband - played brilliantly by Jeremy Sisto. She works at a diner with her two friends played wonderfully by the bubbly Cheryl Hines and the film's writer and director, Adrienne Shelly. The relationship between these three is very realistic, touching and entertaining. They love and cherish each other.
Outstanding support from Eddie Jemison ("Ocean's Eleven, Twelve and Thirteen"), Nathan Fillian ("Serenity") and the great Andy Griffith, who has some great lines and definitely should work more often!! Jemison's spontaneous poetry capture the heart of Ms. Shelly's character and Fillian's Dr. Pomatter shows Russell what it is like to be adored, rather than abused.
This is not slick Hollywood film-making. It is quirky ... just like real life. These are characters, who for the most part, make the best of their situations. Every now and then, if we are lucky, we capture a moment of pure bliss ... whether it is in the selfless hug from another, or the miracle of childbirth. The script analyzes loneliness and bad relationships with a twist of humor and much insight.
While it is heart-breaking that Ms. Shelly did not live to see the final product, we see her heart and soul on screen. And don't miss her real daughter (Sophie Ostrey) as Ms. Russell's 3 year old LuLu. This is a wonderful little film with some terrific moments and a nice message to enjoy your life.
Ever since the Felicity days I've loved Keri Russell, so I was excited to see a screening of this in Santa Monica a week or so ago. I also have enjoyed Nathan Fillion in Serenity and the short-lived show Firefly that preceded that. But even with those expectations I was pleasantly surprised with this movie. It seems like in the past few years movies have become (or maybe they have always been) incredibly predictable. You go see a romantic comedy and it's almost like you can write the next line. I don't know about you, but I kind of like not knowing what is going to come next. That is part of the intrigue. The characters in this movie were diverse, funny, and completely endearing. In Waitress the dialogue is surprising and different. I really enjoyed the quirkiness of the characters. The crowd I viewed this movie with spanned many generations and it seemed to me that nearly everyone was laughing and enjoying themselves. I would recommend this to guys, girls, whoever...if you go in thinking it is going to be like every other movie you will really be happy when you leave the theater. I am definitely going to see it again when it is released this weekend.
Gorgeously filmed story of Romance/Comedy in a southern town. Russell is sweetly brilliant- soundtrack is soulfully supportive of storyline.. Loved this one and can't wait to see it again in my neighborhood. Andy Griffin couldn't have been more on target. Other characters Cheryl,Nathan, Jeremy- what can I say? brilliant casting. Was thrilled to hear the film was picked up for distribution. The viewer can't help but walk away from WAITRESS with good vibes. Adrienne Shelley was VERY good and her talent as writer, producer will be sorely missed. Was so sad to hear of her tragic murder. Unbelievable. Truth is stranger than fiction.
Waitress is a film that is almost impossible not to love. It is such an
obvious labor of love for all involved and brings out some of the best
work of many of those involved. And unlike many "labor of love" films,
this one is actually both highly entertaining and easily accessible.
From start to finish, it is a heart moving and amusing film with many
quirks and magnificent originality. While it is a romantic comedy, it
is not a "Hollywood" romantic comedy in that the film rarely -- if ever
-- goes where you expect it to go.
The story follows a young waitress (played by Keri Russell) who is married to a full-time loser (Jeremy Sisto) with a mean spirit. She finds out she is pregnant which ultimately puts her on a collision course with the new doctor in town (Nathan Fillion) whom she falls into a passionate love affair with. The film follows this waitress as she tries to sort out her own problematic relationship with her husband, understand what her heart is telling her about her affair, all the while dealing with her everyday life with her fellow waitress friends (Adrienne Shelly and Cheryl Hines) and a grumpy old customer (Andy Griffith) who happens to own the restaurant where she works.
Every character in this film is memorable for one reason or another, including several minor character such as the short-order cook of the restaurant, and even a mother and her young, obnoxious son who frequent the restaurant and strike fear into the pregnant protagonist. Andy Griffith in particular grabs the audience's attention and makes his role a true standout.
The only major criticism that can be brought against the film is some of the camera work. At times the focus is unclear with the camera seemingly unsure which actors it should be staying on and at times simply not being in focus at all. However, it is such a minor issue and would go unnoticed to most audiences that it certainly doesn't bring the quality of the film down in any way.
Adrienne Shelly who acted in, wrote and directed the film (as well as co-set designed, co- costume designed and even provided one of the songs for the film) has left one perfect little film here. It is such a tragedy that she did not live to see this film's release as it certainly would have given her the success she so richly deserved. This film can easily be recommended to anybody who has a heart.
I wasn't looking forward to this movie... I went because it was a free
preview and more importantly to support Nathan Fillion. It was a lot
better than I expected. Nathan was great of course - all of his nervous
business was hilarious. It was fun to see him playing a sensitive guy.
And I loved Cheryl Hines.
I enjoyed the story a lot, although it does tend to get a little cloying. There's plenty of acid humor to balance it out.
I was hysterical crying at the end of the film, thinking what a horrible tragedy it is that Adrienne Shelly won't be making any more films. She definitely had a lot of talent - I can't get her "Gonna Make a Pie" song out of my head.
I just returned from seeing this delightful film at the Harkins
Camelview 5 in Scottsdale, AZ. I was so excited to see it. And my
anticipation was well worth the wait. This is a tiny, little story with
a big heart shaped pie.
From the moment the story started I was totally absorbed. The writing is so smart, and so funny. Throughout the film my heart laughed and ached with longing. Each actor was perfectly attuned to their character. And it was so wonderful to see Andy Griffith on the big screen.
I am sorry to say that I had not heard of Adrienne Shelly until this film. But from this film alone, I can see what a remarkable writer, director, and actress she was.
If you enjoy slice-of-life stories and pie, this is the film for you.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I have been a big Adrienne Shelly fan since her early Hal Hartley
movies and also saw her uneven but touching "I'll Take You There,"
where she brought out the screwball in Ally Sheedy without sacrificing
her edge. Here she brings out a deeply funny, authentic and moving
performance from Keri Russell, a performer I did not dislike but never
thought a lot of before this film. She also casts the rest of the
people impeccably, A#1 being Andy Griffith;if you've ever seen "A Face
in the Crowd" you know that he is one of the titanic largely untapped
acting talents of the last century. His scenes with Ms. Russell make up
the true heart of this small but mighty film. Jeremy Sisto is perfect
as well, his character is not given any background beyond the fact that
he changed after marriage, but Sisto constant vulnerability mixed with
his monstrosity and telling lines like "I've never had anybody belong
to me before," seem to indicate that he became drunk with the power of
authority when he entered the marriage and his own fragile sense of
power caused him to be the (often hilarious, as with the car honking,
often terrible, as with the physical violence) broken, absurd and
terrible person he is in the film. Eddie Jemison shines in a part that
is really risky, he has to be even more overbearing than Sisto's
character, but to be the exact opposite, to be actually worthy. Shelly
herself and Cheryl Hines are solid in their support (Shelly is
adorable), but keep the spotlight firmly on Ms. Russell. Nathan Fillion
has been perfect in everything I've ever seen him in, and his open and
unpretentious, handsome semi-doofus-but-convincing-as-a-doctor
character shows a broader range than his heretofore role as a sort of
new-wave Bruce Campbell.
Unfortunately the film loses its footing towards the end with sentiment overtaking the sensibilities preceding it. A maudlin and manipulative mother-daughter song is obviously ADR and not source, and it relies upon the old "everything changes when you see your baby" switcheroo. Then she leaves the hospital without even checking on Old Joe, who just gave her tons of money and is currently in a coma (presumably because to have him just dead would be what, too much of a downer? A coma is better?), then she buys the pie shop and takes Joe's name off it, which doesn't seem very nice. She gives up any chance for a balanced life and lives entirely for her daughter, who she dresses like a doll and then dresses up the same as. She also ditches the doc who, while married to a good person, obviously loves her more than his wife.
It is through the outright charm of Fillion and Ms. Russell that the entire affair is able to come across as not-as-not-right as it is. But for it to go nowhere brings back the creepiness about it they managed to turn away. The whole first 2/3 of the movie is pretty excellent, but I can't ignore that I was really let down by the way it all wrapped up. Up until that point there is a sense of genuine feeling and a level-headedness about, for example, how difficult it must be to leave even someone like Earl and everything you know, not just making it seem easy. Then at the end she just does it, he is dragged off, apparently never gives her more trouble and it actually was just that easy.
Ms. Shelly was undeniably very very talented and her death is a great loss to the film community (and so sad that the little girl at the end is hers), maybe her next one would have been 3/3 excellent. I think I'm going to go eat some pie now.
My boyfriend took me and my 15 year old daughter to see this for
Mother's Day and it was PERFECTION. Beautifully written and acted, a
movie with heart and a story. We all walked out singing the sweet song
at the end of the movie. (I hope the soundtrack comes out soon.) Yes,
there were some predictable plot lines but who cares? When a movie is
handcrafted like a good pie (ok, slightly hokey but so is the movie),
it stands on its own.
Keri Russel is lit like an angel and the storyline between her and her doctor is sweet, slightly silly and tinged with sadness. Andy Griffith gives a great character performance, delivering salty bits of wisdom and memories with equal doses.
I hope this gets a wider release - more people should see it.
Hard to review this film under the circumstances. Adrienne Shelly's
death was a body blow to me. I didn't know her apart from her work over
the past 18 years, but that was enough to know that we lost someone
truly important on November 1, 2006.
It's the movie that matters, and this one shows Shelly coming into her own as a director, the third time out of the gate. It's smart and funny and life-affirming, and when stacked up against "Fay Grim," the latest effort from writer-director Hal Hartley (who gave Shelly her start), there's really no contest: it's the pupil over the mentor all the way.
(Sorry, Hal, if I've offended, though I doubt that you'd mind.)
Small film, huge heart.
For the record, the Adrienne Shelly Foundation is a very good cause.
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