Sublime chick flick with real tears and smiles, but it’s also so much better than that description because it’s a first-class character study and offers a deep dish serving of delicious looking pies. Waitress is one of the best of the small town stories, this one centering around three working girls at a diner. Keri Russell’s talent really shines playing pregnant and uncertain mother Jenna, a woman who can’t chase her dreams because her lout of a husband (Jeremy Sisto) keeps abusive tabs on her with whatever she does. Men in the film are good, bad and sometimes a complicated mix between the two. The excellent and truly laid-back Nathan Fillion plays Dr. Pomatter, the obstetrician who looks after and then falls for Jenna despite he’s married. We’re not sure if he’s happily married or not, and Jenna’s not asking any questions to spoil the spell.
One of the best ever chick flicks? I think so. Keri Russell (TV’s “Felicity”) is exactly the kind of woman that I’m interested in, the great woman with untapped potential. The movie understands the pathetic insecurity of bad men like the car-honking, no-foreplay, big baby Sisto. It also understands that good men like Nathan Fillion are the shining knight types that love women so much that they can love to a fault.
Then there are the pies, all with singular nicknames: “Earl Murders Me Because I’m Having An Affair Pie,” in which you smash blackberries and raspberries into a chocolate crust. And “Pregnant Miserable Self Pitying Loser Pie,” in which you take lumpy oatmeal with fruitcake mashed in and, of course, flambé it.
The best line of the movie is by Fallion, who squats down and looks at Russell directly in the eye with gentlemanly sensitivity. He starts to talk and then sees Russell’s puzzled face. “I know what you’re thinking… No, I don’t. That’s a lie. What are you thinking?”
The writer-director is Adrienne Shelly who also plays Becky the waitress, the one with the dorky glasses. Becky is being stalked by a lovesick weasel (Eddie Jamison), and then there is Dawn (Cheryl Hines) who has a big secret that turns out to be not too far from applicable to Jenna’s life. Immoral choices feel less wrong when you see a friend corrupt in the same way. But euphoria feels good, and it helps Jenna come up with happier titles to her pies.
Many talented people in this world like Jenna circle their lives around a dream without actualizing it. She thinks her talent with inventing and baking special pies is too small. No dream is too small, you just need the right [doctor] to help you recognize it. The trick is hiding your doctor mentor from your husband. Of course, she listens to her friends’ suggestion that somewhere she should open her own pie shop. “Somewhere where they could really use a little pie shop… like Europe, or New Jersey,” Dawn suggests.
Shelly tragically passed away four months before her movie opened. But she made a classic that will stand out in many years to come (small town movies don’t date so easily). And this one in particular has an eternal heart.
ROMANTIC COMEDY / CHICK FLICK / SUMMERTIME FUN
Film Cousins: “Steel Magnolias” (1989); “Fried Green Tomatoes” (1991); “A Walk in the Clouds” (1995); “The Good Girl” (2002).