Waitress, feel-kinda-good movie of early 2007 ...
(Pic found at YumSugar.com)
... feel-good, because it's a fun comedy with quirky characters and a happy message; feel-only-kinda good because of the horrific fate of writer-director-star Adrienne Shelly, which need no snarky comment because it was simply horrible.
Still, that doesn't make the movie itself off-limits, especially with all the superlatives thrown its direction back in oh-seven.
***Spoilers abound below***
As fun as Waitress can be -- and it is quite funny, quite often -- the movie at its core is one gigantic cliche. A wayward, pregnant Southern waitress with a knack for baking pies (Keri Russell) is married to an overbearing jackass (Jeremy Sisto) and helped only by her quirky waitress friends (Cheryl Hines and Shelly, whose performance is as great as her storyline isn't) ... until a Northern doctor (Nathan Fillion) shows up and sweeps Russell off her feet. Sort of.
Sort of, since she *doesn't* end up with the doctor. Why? Because nearly all the male characters in this movie are idiots. Sisto is a jerk. Fillion is a dope. Even the Shelly character's love interest (Eddie Jemison), cute as he might be, also is pretty dim. Well, OK, they saved room for the Sage Old Man character (Andy Griffith, who else?) ... because all old people are smart, of course, and you're not smart until you get old, right*? But the point is, in a great swoop of Girl Power, Russell decides that, well, that Fillion's character is a dope.
*But, when you're old, of course you must die during the movie to illicit sympathy from the audience. That's as American Movie Formula as apple pie (and all the other pies served in this movie)**.
**Another reason why I didn't get caught up in the Waitress frenzy: I'm a health food absolutist and thus don't eat pie. So the whole mouthwatering delight thing was lost on me.
Anyway, yes, Waitress sidesteps the she-finds-love-with-another-man cliche. But it replaces it with another: The happily-ever-after-with-me-and-my-baby cliche. You see, Russell's character *hates* this baby throughout the movie, because it's her husband's, it's making her fat, etc. Of course, this is true until the baby gets born*. Then she realizes how beautiful it is and how complete her life is and blah, blah, blah.
*And, while I'm at it, why do movies always show the obligatory birth scene? They might not all be as graphic as Knocked Up's, but they're just as gratuitous.
But the mother-loving-baby thing isn't the bad part here. It's the fact that mother loving baby = everything will be wonderful until the end of time! (This wondefulness factor goes for all the sympathetic characters in the script, BTW. They all win. Except the dead guy, but he was old, so that's OK. He's probably in heaven anyway -- the eternal version of happily-ever-after.)
But here's the thing: No matter how happy you get, sometimes life just sucks. The happily-ever-after thing is pure nonsense. There's nothing wrong with things ending positively, but good God -- at least show her struggling with her taxes or something! Maybe stubbing a toe? Her favorite singer losing on American Idol? Something!
It's disgustingly ironic how Shelly's life ended, when you consider the way her final film did. I *will not* say it proves my point, because it doesn't -- otherwise, every character would die before the credits roll. And that would be ridiculous.
But so is the happily-ever-after concept. It must be stopped, lest our intelligences be insulted again ... and again .. and again ...
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