Whether you end up loving or loathing the late Adrienne Shelly’s lukewarm romantic dramedy about a down-and-out pregnant diner worker (Russell), one thing is uncontestable: This movie is a dieter’s nightmare. Like every fable in which food acts as a salve, Waitress attributes an almost supernatural power to its delicacy of choice—in this case, pies. Quirky quiches and fruit-filled desserts are the heroine’s specialty, and viewers are treated to creative crusty concoctions that resemble mouthwatering Pop Art pastries. This could be the greatest thing to happen to the baked-goods industry since the birth of Sara Lee.
If only the rest of the movie were as tasty as those treats. As an actor (she plays a member of the restaurant’s apron-wearing ya-ya sisterhood), Shelly embodied a certain indie sensibility. Her previous outings as a director, however, courted mainstream appeal, and this estrogenized tale of redemption feels ready-made for TV; its caricatures of sassy Southern servers, a repugnant, abusive husband and a hunky OB-GYN (Fillion) wouldn’t be out of place in a Lifetime drama or prime-time sitcom. She even casts Andy Griffith (!) as a lovable coot. Shelly’s film (regrettably her last) may be a fine folly for foodies. But as a fable of female empowerment, it seriously lacks flavor.
Cast and crew