Director – Adrienne Shelly
Writer – Adrienne Shelly
Director of Photography – Matthew Irving
Editor – Anette Davey
Music – Andrew Hollander
Producer – Michael Roiff
Fox Searchlight Pictures. 108 minutes. Rated PG-13 for sexual content, language and thematic elements.
STARRING: Keri Russell (Jenna), Nathan Fillion (Dr. Pomatter), Cheryl Hines (Becky), Jeremy Sisto (Earl), Adrienne Shelly (Dawn), Eddie Jemison (Ogie) and Andy Griffith (Old Joe).
Waitress is a charming little film about second chances and pies. A little sweet, a little tart, the film juggles multiple ingredients, tying everything together for a fruitful ending.
Jenna (Keri Russell) is a waitress in a small-town diner who has an uncanny ability to make pies and a husband Earl (Jeremy Sisto) who makes her life hell. Earl isn’t without his redeeming qualities, but since they were married he just hasn’t seen the need to present them. He takes her money, makes her take care of all the housework, and refuses to let her participate in an upcoming pie-making contest.
When Jenna learns of her pregnancy she decides to keep the baby, but feels no warmth toward the child of her husband. On her first prenatal visit she refuses to be congratulated by the town’s new physician, Dr. Pomatter, played with charismatic charm by Nathan Fillion (TV’s Firefly, Serenity, Slither). Eventually Jenna and Dr. Pomatter develop a romantic relationship that many would consider unethical and morally wrong, including Jenna herself, who chastises a co-worker Becky (Curb Your Enthusiasm’s Cheryl Hines) for having an extramarital affair.
Still, Dr. Pomatter is everything as a man Earl is not. Jenna even considers the possibility of running away with him when her plans of winning the pie-making contest and using the money to get away from Earl fails. But Dr. Pomatter is no knight in shining armor; he is married himself.
Jenna struggles through her pregnancy continuing her relationship with Dr. Pomatter, all the while continuing to make her fantastic pies and serve customers at her diner including the cantankerous Old Joe, played with pitch-perfect ease by Andy Griffith.
Finally, after giving birth Jenna finds the strength and grace to make some life-changing decisions for both herself and her newborn baby with some help coming from an unexpected source.
Waitress stumbles over itself in a couple places and at times the editing creates odd pacing, but it does a wonderful job of capturing the small-town atmosphere it’s set in. In the end, this charming little film manages to be entertaining and deliver a powerful message that no matter where you are in life, you can still make your dreams come true, without being schmaltzy. That’s a sweet treat!
Sadly, writer, director and co-star of this film, Adrienne Shelly was murdered not long after the completion of this film in her New York apartment. The Adrienne Shelly Foundation assists women filmmakers with school scholarships, production grants, finishing funds, and other invaluable resources. More information can be found at adrienneshellyfoundation.org.
Darryl A. Armstrong