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If this was a meal, I would send it back to the kitchen.

Movie Review: Waitress

Waitress is such a terrible creation I wanted to send it back to the kitchen. The characters are one-dimensional and poorly realized, the story is trite and clichéd, and the editing suffers from a sluggish pace and unnecessary moments. Except for the fact that going to a screening allows you to spend time in an air-conditioned room on a hot day, there is no reason to waste your time on it.

The film tells the story of Jenna (Keri Russell), an unhappily married woman in a generic Southern town at an unspecified time. She finds herself pregnant with a baby she doesn’t want from a husband she doesn’t like. The depiction of the abusive relationship is close to being insulting to those who have suffered through it. Yes, he says cruel things, is controlling, and somewhat physical with her, but there’s no exploration as to why she stays or who he is. These relationships are much more complex than this. The husband (Jeremy Sisto) comes off like such a Neanderthal that his lack of any redeemable qualities makes you question why Jenna got together with him in the first place.

That is until Jenna begins an affair with her new obstetrician, showing how very impetuous and foolhardy she is. Dr. Pomatter is married, but no time is spent examining his motivations, either. The film wants you to think this is a great love affair, but neither participant is very likeable or admirable. The relationship begins as solely physical. They do have a tender scene at her house, but it was tense because the husband could have appeared.

Jenna not being too bright is driven home a number of times, including her hiding money all over the house to save up enough to run away, but of course, her husband finds it. Why she doesn’t just up and leave or ask her friends for help is never explored due to the scriptwriter’s laziness. The characters don’t deal with obvious questions so the plot can get to a predetermined conclusion.

What Jenna does have going for her is she is the greatest pie maker. There is a contest where she could win $25,000, but her husband nixes that idea. While I understand him not letting her go alone, the idea of going with her and collecting the winnings never occurs to him, which is unbelievable since they could use the money.

Most of the film is set in the diner Jenna works at. Unfortunately, it was too reminiscent of the television show Alice with its gruff cook and two waitresses, one sassy and one dingy. Andy Griffith played Joe, the diner’s owner. He starts off crotchety, but really has a heart of gold. He had some of the funnier lines in the film, but didn’t have enough to do to make his character memorable.

The film’s conclusion is disappointing because of its heavy-handed predictability. Once Jenna’s baby is born, she has great revelations about her life and everything magically works out. Waitress serves up a sappy and contrived story to make the viewer feel good, but comes up empty due to its weak script.

About Gordon S. Miller

Gordon S. Miller is the artist formerly known as El Bicho, the nom de plume he used when he first began reviewing movies online for The Masked Movie Snobs in 2003. Before the year was out, he became that site's publisher. Over the years, he has also contributed to a number of other sites as a writer and editor, such as FilmRadar, Film School Rejects, High Def Digest, and Blogcritics. He is the Publisher of Cinema Sentries. Some of his random thoughts can be found at twitter.com/ElBicho_CS

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