Saturday, 18 October 2008

No.89 : Waitress

Waitress at the IMDb

Waitress Jenna loves to bake pies. She bakes for her workplace, Old Joe’s, she bakes for her friends and she bakes at home to forget her miserable life. She is married to the boorish Earl who honks his horn a lot and keeps his wife under his thumb. As the film opens Jenna learns that she’s pregnant as the result of a night of lovin’ with Earl that came after he got her drunk. The news is a disaster as she’d been saving to get away from Earl and to compete in the National Pie Baking Championships.

She unhappily resolves to keep the baby and checks in to her doctor for the usual tests. She is surprised however to learn that her aged lady doctor has retired and been replaced by the nice Dr Jim who gladly accepts her offer of a pie. As the pregnancy progresses the two become lovers despite both having complex home lives. Romance is also blossoming at the diner where Jenna’s two waitress buddies both have relationship issues of their own.

Things come to a head when Earl finds Jenna’s stash of cash and starts to knock her about. She confides in Old Joe himself, but knows that if she’s ever going to be happy that she’ll have to make things happen for herself. As her waters break she has to sort out her relationships, have the baby and answer her fan mail from the now ailing Old Joe.

I really enjoyed this film which will forever be tinged by sadness, owing to the murder of writer/director Adrienne Shelly shortly after its completion. Kerri Russell is great in the lead as the downtrodden but spirited Jenna. We get a window into her thoughts through a narration device of her writing a diary for her baby to be and this helps fill out her conflicted character. Although she is hostile to the idea of becoming a mother we know it’s a front and that standing up to Earl is the only route to happiness. Earl is a horrible character, although maybe not as menacing as intended. He’s played by Jeremy Sisto, who played the mental one on ‘Six Feet Under’, and he does well to deviate between pathetic and bullying an a single stride.

The love lives of Jenna’s waitress buddies are really just footnotes but fun all the same. I just hope Larry David knows what his wife is getting up to! Andy Griffith shows up as the wise old restaurant owner and although seen as initially cantankerous we know he’s a good old guy. Filling the cast is Nathan Fillion out of ‘Firefly’ and he’s good value as the sexed up doc. He’s pretty unethical from the start and his motivations aren’t clear given his lovely wife at home, but I guess the point of the matter is that we can’t choose who we fall in love with and when.

The film is really well made with lots of shots of sumptuous pies to keep us fat guys interested. The characters are all well written and although the ending is a bit of the fairytale variety we don’t grudge any of them their happiness. A genuinely uplifting feel good movie that won me over despite its overwhelming theme of chick wish fulfilment. You go girl!

Best Bit : Pies!

‘W’ Rating 20/23

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