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WAITRESS

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Keri Russell, Nathan Fillion, Cheryl Hines, Adrienne Shelly, Eddie Jemison, Jeremy Sisto, Andy Griffith
Director: Adrienne Shelly
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish Dolby Surround
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Features: See Review
Length: 108 Minutes
Release Date: November 27, 2007

“Un-congratulations, you’re definitely having a baby.”

“Un-thank you.”

Film ***

Waitress is a pleasant, sunny romantic comedy that wears its sunny qualities on its sleeve from beginning to end. Add to that a lead character that you fall in love with right from the opening scene. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the character is played by the beautiful and talented Keri Russell.

Russell is the entire focus here, and rightfully so, as Jenna, who resides in a small town and happens to be the best waitress/pie maker at the local diner. Work is about the only thing she has to look forward to, as her personal life is a consistent train wreck. A lot of that has to do with her push, bully of a husband named Earl (Jeremy Sisto).

Jenna is currently pregnant. The depressed mood she’s in has nothing to do with having the baby, but rather the life the baby is to endure with Earl as a father. And it won’t help that her new physician, Dr. Pomatter (Nathan Fillion), becomes attracted to her almost instantly.

Despite the plot at hand, a great deal of Waitress takes place at the diner. Jenna is very close friends with fellow waitresses Becky (Cheryl Hines) and Dawn (Adrienne Shelly). They are in awe of her work style but wouldn’t trade a thing for her personal life.

The laughs in Waitress aren’t so much frequent, but when they are delivered they are priceless. The standout moments are Jenna’s visions of the many pie recipes representing whatever mood she’s in. But the most hilarious moment comes when Jenna, after a realization, spends her entire day with the liveliest smile you will ever see on a single face.

And yet, underneath all the breeziness of this movie, lies a sad truth. This was the last feature to be made by Adrienne Shelly, who was murdered while the film was in post-production. She made mostly unseen independent features, but it is great to see that her final film did get noticed by audiences, only to see that a pure directing talent was taken from us too soon.

Waitress is both a perfect slice of life comedy as well as the best film I’ve seen about pie making. Keri Russell, in her first lead performance, announces herself as a truly gifted actress. Her mixture of comedic and dramatic qualities displayed here are more than enough to make this a must see film.

Video ***

The anamorphic presentation from Fox is good enough for such a simple looking comedy. The image quality is clear and crisp, give or take a couple moments of image softness. Colors are most terrific as well.

Audio **1/2

The 5.1 mix is an effective one, but only when it comes to the dialogue delivery because this film is nothing more than a dialogue-driven piece. It limits the surround sound access, but the spoken words come through as clean and clear as you’d expect.

Features ***

A nice filling of extras on this release, including a commentary with producer Michael Roiff and star Keri Russell, a number of featurettes including “This Is How We Made Waitress Pie”, “Written And Directed By Adrienne Shelly: A Memorial”, "Hi! I'm Keri, I'll Be Your Waitress", “The Pies Have It!” and “Fox Movie Channel Presents In Character With Keri Russell, Cheryl Hines, Nathan Fillion”

Summary:

Comedies like Waitress are a rarity. It’s a sunny character based comedy that will win you over in a heartbeat!

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