Waitress (film)

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Waitress
Waitress.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Adrienne Shelly
Produced by Todd King
Jeff Rose
Michael Roiff
Written by Adrienne Shelly
Starring Keri Russell
Nathan Fillion
Cheryl Hines
Jeremy Sisto
Andy Griffith
Adrienne Shelly
Music by Andrew Hollander
Editing by Annette Davey
Distributed by Fox Searchlight Pictures
Release dates
  • May 25, 2007 (2007-05-25)
Running time 104 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $2,000,000
Box office $22,179,430 (Worldwide)[1]

Waitress is a 2007 American comedy-drama film written and directed by Adrienne Shelly, who also appears in a supporting role, making this her final appearance before her murder. The film debuted at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival and went into limited theatrical release in the US on May 2, 2007.

Plot[edit]

Jenna (Keri Russell) is a waitress living in the American South, trapped in an unhappy marriage with the controlling bully Earl (Jeremy Sisto). She works in Joe's Pie Diner, where her job includes creating inventive pies with unusual titles inspired by her life, such as the "Bad Baby Pie" she invents after her unwanted pregnancy is confirmed. Jenna longs to run away from her dismal marriage, and is slowly accumulating money to do so. She pins her hopes for escape on a pie contest in a nearby town, which offers a $25,000 grand prize, but her husband won't let her go. Her only friends are coworkers Becky and Dawn (Cheryl Hines and Adrienne Shelly), and Joe (Andy Griffith), the curmudgeonly owner of the diner and several other local businesses, who encourages her to begin a new life elsewhere.

Jenna's life changes after she meets her new physician, Jim Pomatter (Nathan Fillion). He has moved to the small town to accommodate his wife, who is completing her residency at the local hospital, and is filling in for the woman who has been Jenna's doctor since childhood. The two are attracted to each other, and over the course of several pre-natal appointments the attraction grows. After Dr. Pomatter invites her into the office under a quickly exposed pretext, she impulsively initiates a passionate (and secret) affair.

Prompted by the gift of a baby journal, Jenna begins to keep a diary, ostensibly for her unborn child, with voiceovers giving the viewer access to her thoughts about that future child and her own plans. Between these entries, her relationship with Dr. Pomatter, and the thoughts she reveals as she describes the various pies she creates, the audience gets to know her evolving hopes and dreams, concerns and fears, and slowly growing attachment to the baby she at first didn't want.

After giving birth, Jenna bonds immediately with the baby girl she names Lulu. Earl, clearly disappointed it's a girl and witnessing that bonding, reminds Jenna of a promise he had forced her to make earlier not to love the baby more than she does him. That comment, the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back, wipes away any concerns she has about her lack of money and her fear of her husband. With determined frankness she tells him bluntly she hasn't loved him in years, will no longer put up with his possessiveness and abuse, and wants a divorce. Later, while Becky and Dawn are helping her prepare to leave the hospital and letting her know that Joe had collapsed and went into a coma, Jenna remembers an envelope Joe had brought to her before the birth, when she finds out he had been admitted as a patient in the same hospital. In the envelope she finds a handmade card with a sketch of her, a check for $270,450 (More than enough to be able to leave Earl.), and a message of friendship that urges her to start her life anew. While leaving the hospital, Dr. Pomatter wants to have a word with her in private regarding their affair and what is to happen now. She promptly breaks it off, handing him a chocolate Moon Pie and asks her friends to wheel her out. On the way out they ask her what that was all about, to which she coolly replies that she was having an affair with him and just ended it.

An epilogue depicts Jenna winning the pie contest, and becoming the new owner of the diner where she worked, now called Lulu's Pies, serving brightly colored pies to her customers and friends. The final shot shows her walking home hand-in-hand with the now toddler-aged Lulu.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

The film is set in a small town in the Southern United States. Jenna has plans to go to pie baking contest in a nearby town called 'Jonesville'. Joe (the Andy Griffith character) reads a newspaper called the "Redhood Picayune" — possibly a tip to a town in the Southern U.S.

The movie was filmed on location in Saugus, California.

Reception[edit]

Seeing Waitress at Sundance was a really emotional experience. The typical format for the festival is that the director is introduced to say a few words before the film begins. It was painful from the beginning to see that there was no director to introduce the film, since Adrienne had died. So the producer and Adrienne's husband Andy talked about how it had been Adrienne's dream to have a film at Sundance. It was very poignant.

—Nancy Utley, COO at Fox Searchlight[2]

The film was accepted into the 2007 Sundance Film Festival, though its premiere was bittersweet because writer/director Shelly (who also played Dawn in the film) was murdered less than three months before its debut[3] and just before she was about to learn the film had been accepted into the festival.[2] Its success there led Fox Searchlight Pictures to acquire the distribution rights for $4–5 million.[4] It opened the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival.[4]

The film received mostly positive reviews from critics, with an 89% "Fresh" rating among the 163 reviews tracked by Rotten Tomatoes,[5] and ending the year on that site's list of Top 100 films for 2007.[6] It got a 75 out of 100 at Metacritic.[7] Waitress was called a "good-hearted, well-made comedy"[8] brimming with "quality star wattage".[9] The reviewer from The A.V. Club was less glowing, concluding:

It would be tempting to compare the setting and ditzy sidekick/tough-talking blonde/soulful lead dynamic unfavorably to Martin Scorsese's Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore if it aspired that high. With its snappy dialogue and broad characters, it's closer in spirit to that film's sitcom spin-off, Alice. Still, there's much to offset the shortcomings, particularly nice performances from Russell and Fillion and a rare, welcome role from Andy Griffith as the diner's gruff owner, even if he's largely there to set up a finale that cheats much of what's come before. It's an imperfect film, but it's the kind of imperfect film of which it would be nice to have seen Shelly make more.[10]

Mick LaSalle called it a "great American film" that transcends its "air of whimsicality and its emphasis on small-town characters and humble locations."[11]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Adrienne Shelly received a Best Screenplay nomination at the 23rd Independent Spirit Awards.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Waitress (2007)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2011-07-10. 
  2. ^ a b Wood, Gaby (2007-07-15). "The unbelievable truth". The Observer. Retrieved 2011-07-10.
  3. ^ Harvey, Dennis (2007-05-01). "Film Reviews - Waitress". Variety. Retrieved 2011-07-10.
  4. ^ a b Morfoot, Addie (2007-02-13). "Festival order for 'Waitress'". Variety. Retrieved 2011-07-10.
  5. ^ "Waitress". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixter. Retrieved 2011-07-10.
  6. ^ "Top 100 Movies of 2007". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixter. Retrieved 2011-07-10.
  7. ^ "Waitress Reviews, Ratings, Credits". Metacritic. CBS. Retrieved 2011-07-10.
  8. ^ Rocchi, James (2007-01-24). "Sundance Review: Waitress". Cinematical.com. Retrieved 2011-07-10.
  9. ^ (2007-01-23). "$UCCESS COMES TO ADRIENNE". NYPost.com. Retrieved 2011-07-10.
  10. ^ Phipps, Keith (2007-05-03). "Waitress | Film | Movie Review". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 2011-07-10.
  11. ^ LaSalle, Mick (2007-05-11). "Bittersweet film served up with heart and soul". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2011-07-10.

External links[edit]