Waitress
Would you trust her with your food? I didn’t think so.

Theatrical Release Date: 05/11/2007
Director: Adrienne Shelly
Cast: Keri Russell, Nathan Fillion, Jeremy Sisto, Cheryl Hines, Adrienne Shelly

Out just in time for Mother’s Day is the late Adrienne Shelly’s tale of a small town pie maven rising above a verbally, emotionally and physically abusive husband.

Wait a minute … We’re supposed to want to take our mothers to a movie where Jeremy Sisto goes all Lifetime channel on Felicity?

I will readily admit that I wasn’t really planning to see this film, it just sort of happened as I was planning a small movie marathon with some other new releases.

And I’m not saying this film doesn’t have some good points.

First, Jeremy Sisto is excellent in this role and I wish that he would be given the opportunity to take on larger profile roles after so much time spent doing supporting work in films and television. He plays the husband from hell with conviction and a sincerity that makes it easy to hate the character.

Second, Keri Russell isn’t asked to do too much. She acts sweet and naive, cries after being abused and puts a dough-eyed look on her face for most of the rest of it. The accent in the film was a little annoying but I suppose that was her and the director’s idea of making her seem folksy.

Third, Cheryl Hines and Adrienne Shelly play fun and engaging waitresses in the same diner as Russell. The interaction between the three was as carefree and believable as a long running sitcom … which sort of leads me to the next point.

Where “Waitress” goes wrong is that it isn’t balanced. Like a sitcom that suddenly decides to throw in a “very special episode”, the quirky, offbeat comedy doesn’t match up to the serious and vulgar abuse that Russell’s character endures from her husband.

Either the film should have made Sisto a regular-old inattentive jerk that Russell leaves to find fulfillment or the comedy should have been turned way down and the film should have tackled the issue of spousal abuse more thoroughly.

What amazed me after watching the film were some of the comments I heard from the audience as they left the theater. Many of them expressed that the movie was sweet and heartwarming … somehow ignoring the fact that Russell gets socked in the face by Sisto and instead allowing her eventual departure from the relationship serve as enough justification to show female empowerment.

I just don’t get it. And since I doubt anyone reading this is going to see it, let me just add that they don’t even try to put Sisto in jail. After taking more abuse than Robin Givens took from Mike Tyson, Russell just decides to leave her husband.

I’m truly baffled that a movie could depict such a serious issue and not tackle it head on with any real world consequences.

Still, apparently some audiences are able to separate the unbalanced nature of this film either through select suspension of disbelief or psychological necessity and I will admit that the rest of the film was sweet and endearing.

I’m tipping “Waitress” a 3 out of 5. It would have been a 2 most likely, except that I am giving it another point for having the balls to market this as a Mother’s Day film … “Hey, Mom! Wanna go see a movie about pies, unwanted pregnancy and spousal abuse?” … Somehow, I don’t think that’s the best idea for the holiday … but that’s just me.