Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Justin Long, Anna Faris, David Koechner, Luis Guzman, Chi McBride, Dane Cook
Director: Rob McKittrick
For anyone who has ever worked in the restaurant industry, “Waiting…” may just be the funniest movie you’ve ever seen. And for those who haven’t, it’s probably one of the dumbest films you’re likely to see all year. Written and directed by first-time filmmaker Rob McKittrick, “Waiting…” could be described as the “Office Space” of waiting tables, but the clever commentary is wasted on an audience who can’t relate to a majority of the jokes. My own personal experience in the restaurant industry gave me a much better appreciation for the sharp writing and over-the-top performances. The simple fact that I knew all of these characters only made it that much funnier, because despite how exaggerated the events in this movie may look, they’re the real thing.
Leading the cast of up-and-coming stars is Ryan Reynolds and Justin Long as two high school pals who have been waiting tables at the local Shenanigan’s for the past four years. Monty (Reynolds) is your run-of-the-mill party guy who is more concerned about having a good time than where he’s going in life. Dean (Long), on the other hand, is seriously contemplating his future. After hearing about a former classmate who’s recently landed a lucrative job with his college degree, Dean begins to regret never aspiring to better opportunities. When he’s offered the Assistant Manager position by his power-tripping boss (David Koechner) though, Dean is given only one day to decide.
Meanwhile, Mitch is busy training the new guy (John Francis Daily) who, over the course of one shift, is introduced to all of the quirky characters that make up the rest of the staff, including the hot but underage hostess (Vanessa Lengies); head cook Raddimus (Luis Guzman) and his right-hand man Floyd (Dane Cook); and my personal favorite, Naomi (Alanna Ubach), a psychotic waitress who can flip a scowl into a smile for the sake of scoring a better tip. It’s obvious that McKittrick is a bitter ex-employee himself, because his treatment of restaurant eccentricities involving bad tips, dirty cooks, birthday singing and foreign tables is absolutely flawless.
One of the bigger problems as to why the film isn’t as funny as it should be is in part because the lead actors don’t shine in their roles. Reynolds is usually a comedic goldmine, especially when given the chance to improvise (just look at how much he improved “Blade: Trinity"), and Long was the funniest thing about “Dodgeball.” It’s a giant disappointment to see both of these guys swing and miss throughout a majority of the film, but luckily, the smaller niche characters step up and steal the show. The biggest surprise came from Dane Cook, brilliant comedian and cameo actor extraordinaire, whose on-the-edge Floyd has been a breath of fresh air since first seeing the trailer for this film. This isn’t, of course, enough to turn a dud into a stud, but his performance helps to smooth out the rougher parts of the script. And there are plenty of rough spots to speak of, but if you’re even half the disgruntled waiter that these people are, you’ll get a kick out of this movie. And for everyone else? Well, you’ll be left waiting… for something… for anything… for laughter.
Whoever thought that first-time director Rob McKittrick’s “Waiting…” was worthy of a two-disc special edition DVD release is in need of much deserved trip to the nearest insane asylum. In fact, almost none of the special features that appear on the two-disc ordeal seem fitting, except for the deleted scenes and alternate takes, in which there are thirty-two of. Also included on the first disc is the featurette entitled “That Little Extra Documentary,” a decent making-of that goes into more detail on pre-production for the movie.
The second disc of the set is where the studio got a bit out of hand. Along with a telestrator commentary with writer/director McKittrick and producer Jeff Balis that’s subpar at best, disc two includes a short interview with three real-life servers (“Sending It Back: The Real Dish on Waiting Tables”), scene specific audio commentaries and casting tapes (“Side Dishes”), as well as “The Works,” a longer, rehashed version of the documentary found on disc one. I have to question this decision to include, essentially, the same exact documentary across two discs. “The Works” is obviously more informative, so why not just stick with that one? Also, a majority of the bonus material that appears on the second disc is completely worthless, but it begs to ask the question: why doesn’t every film get such a grand DVD release? It’s not like I have the room for a bunch of two-disc releases in my movie binders, but why not at least cram as much stuff as possible on one disc? If “Waiting…” deserves it, than so does almost any other film.