Jenna (Keri Russell) bakes up a newly invented pie every single day. Her brilliance is truly appreciated by anyone that tastes them. Anyone except her good-for-nothing self-absorbed husband Earl (Jeremy Sisto).
Their marriage is a total disaster. She is merely an object of possession to him, one that he holds with a tight grip. When she requests to enter a pie contest that could win them $25,000 and where she could get some real exposure for her talent, he denies this opportunity to her.
The only solace that Jenna has in this miserable day-to-day routine is her newly invented daily pie and her quirky but supportive colleagues Becky (Cheryl Hines) & Dawn (Adrienne Shelly). When Jenna finds herself to be pregnant, (due to her husband getting her drunk and well, you know), things are to take a turn in her life, conveniently at this juncture, in comes waltzing the new doctor in town (Nathan Fillion). If you're already putting two and two together you'll probably come up with a total of five.
Wrongly pegged as a romantic comedy, this film is primarily about the journey of a pregnant woman. From the day one: "I don't want no baby. I don't want no trouble. I just want to make pies." to the very end, it's about Jenna and the pregnancy. It has a message to put across with regards to the pressures that being pregnant can have on a woman, thankfully though, this is not done at the expense of taking away entertainment value from the viewer.
The thing that's initially noticeable about Waitress is the folksy language. No bad thing, but it does take a little getting used to.
Helping along the way is the quirky dialogue and humour. As the plot progresses, the marriage situation is revealed to be worse than we first thought, you do actually find hate for the character of Earl with no effort at all. Again it's the strange humour that helps you feel at ease, through the otherwise uncomfortable situations we see her go through.
We also get more familiar with the allies she has outside of home. The friendly doctor is everything for her that Earl is not. The colleagues have their own little issues and tantrums from which Jenna can learn a thing or two, it's all very smartly written. It should be said it's the brilliant writing by Adrienne Shelly that makes the balance work so well. In addition the humour seems straight out of life. Each character seems to have their own set of strange behaviours that works together with that of the others, to form the unique humour. I think this is true to reality, with the strange factor amplified a little.
Of course great writing has to be enhanced by the performances and as intended they are all-round are appropriately quirky. I was initially drawn to this film because Nathan Fillion is in it. He's pretty cool and I was interested to see what he's up to these days. Post-Serenity he seems to be a little dormant. He does a top-notch job as the doc and I'm not disappointed. That said, without a shred of doubt maximum praise has to go to Keri Russell for taking the role of Jenna and really making it her own, the remainder of the cast are not far behind. The only person I would pinpoint as slightly uneasy at certain points is Jeremy Sisto. It felt at times he was struggling playing this total jerk & wanted to burst into laughter at how ridiculous the character was. I don't blame him.
Overall, Waitress holds that unique independent film fragrance and can quite easily be compared to the numerous bitter and sweet pies that it bakes up over its 104 minute duration. You'll probably walk away uplifted somewhat and most certainly craving pie. I'll leave you with just that.
Some of the pies featured in the film:
"I don't want Earl's baby pie"
Quiche of egg and brie cheese with a smoked ham centre.
"Kick in the pants pie"
Cinnamon spice custard.
"I hate my husband pie"
You take bittersweet chocolate and don't sweeten it. You make it into a pudding and drown in caramel.
"Baby screaming it's head off in the middle of the night and ruining my life pie"
Pecans and nutmeg over a New York style cheesecake. No crust ..
"Earl murders me because I'm having an affair pie"
You smash blackberries and raspberries into a chocolate crust.
"I can't have no affair because it's wrong and I don't want Earl to kill me pie"
Vanilla custard with banana, hold the banana ..
"Pregnant miserable self-pitying loser pie"
Lumpy oatmeal with fruitcake mashed in. Flambe' ofcourse...