I believe it can be said that pies are the highest valued things in the film Waitress. Unlike the main character’s unborn child, they are never accused of making someone unhappy. Unlike the various spouses in the film, no one ever cheats on the pie. So much feeling and meaning goes into each one that I ended up wishing that as much care had been put into the weak and troubling story that makes up the late Adrienne Shelley’s Sundance hit.
If it seems too simple, that’s because it is. It tells the tale of Jenna (Keri Russell), a waitress in a small town who is unhappily married to Earl (Jeremy Sisto), and suddenly finds out she is pregnant. Her co-workers can’t understand her unhappiness about the baby, and frankly, neither did I. I can understand how it happened at an inconvenient time, but it did not seem to merit the kind of resentment directed toward him or her.
Meanwhile, Jenna embarks on an affair with Dr. Pomatter (Nathan Fillion), which makes her happy but forces her to lie to Earl. By the end it doesn’t really mean anything. She’s not the only one having an affair, though. Many of the characters are jumping in and out of love/lust, with little regard to the feelings of anyone else. At a few moments it seems the film is going to address these ethical issues, but it backs down. To do so would only complicate things, and that would not work for this comedy. This is a comedy…right?
The only real bright spot of the film for me was Andy Griffith. I’m not sure why, but seeing him from time to time, a cross between a curmudgeon and a saint, was a breath of fresh air in comparison to Jenna’s whining and all the shallow flings. He also brings a sense of pedigree to what is mainly an amateurishly written and directed film.
It seems to build itself up as a character film, but then denies itself the chances to really explore each person. Instead we are met with sitcom-style situations and the ludicrous Southern stereotypes which seem to pervade every depiction of the area. I will give it this much: it really made me hungry for pie.