Waitress (2007) Review

Today I’m reviewing Adrienne Shelly’s fantastic film Waitress. This would’ve been Shelly’s 50th birthday so I’ve been reviewing some of her movies this week. I started by reviewing her Hal Hartley films The Unbelievable Truth & Trust (HERE) & yesterday reviewed the films Sleeping With Strangers & Factotum (HERE). I think Waitress is the best of her films that I’ve seen. She did an excellent job as writer, director & co-star and I think she’d have gone on to make many more great films if she’d had the chance. Let’s talk about Waitress!

Waitress (2007)

Directed & Written by Adrienne Shelly

Starring: Keri Russell, Nathan Fillion, Cheryl Hines, Jeremy Sisto, Andy Griffith, Adrienne Shelly

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Jenna is a pregnant, unhappily married waitress in the deep south. She meets a newcomer to her town and falls into an unlikely relationship as a last attempt at happiness.

My Opinion:

First of all, I’m not one of these girly girls who goes for a lot of “chick flicks”. I do like some movies that are aimed mainly at women but, for me to like these types of movies, they have to be good. I don’t like dumb comedy or sappy romance and would run screaming from the crap that people like Kate Hudson star in. Waitress isn’t one of those types of movies. I hesitated to even use the words “chick flicks” above due to the negative connotations but, yes, I’d say this movie is certainly aimed at females. However, I think plenty of men would be far happier to watch this with their wives/girlfriends than, say, Pretty Woman or something. So don’t write this one off as just some “chick flick” as it’s better than that term implies.

However, I fully admit that this film won’t work for everyone. I wasn’t really planning on ever even reviewing it until I decided that I’d check out more of director/writer/co-star Adrienne Shelly’s previous acting work after really liking what she did with Waitress.

I can’t explain it exactly but I wanted to keep this movie to myself. I think most of us movie bloggers have some movies that just “speak” to us for whatever reason and Waitress is one of those films for me. I just get it. It works perfectly for me. Not everyone will have the same reaction to it & I know it probably helped that, when I first saw it, I was also pregnant like Keri Russell’s character. Although I wasn’t in the same circumstances whatsoever (her pregnancy is very much unplanned and her husband is an abusive asshole), I liked that this movie wasn’t all “Yay! Being pregnant is the greatest and most beautiful thing in the world!” and that it didn’t rely on dumb pregnancy/baby humor like so many “chick flicks/romcoms” often do. Russell’s character isn’t mean about her pregnancy or anything like that – she’s just kind of numb & goes through the motions during her pregnancy as she knows she doesn’t really have any other option. Although I couldn’t relate to the exact same feelings, I loved the honesty and the fact that her character felt real. I read that Shelly wrote this film while pregnant with her daughter & scared of how motherhood might change her life & career. They say “write what you know”, right? I think Shelly did that & ended up writing a great & honest film because of it.

This is a smart comedy & I love the (bad) attitudes of every quirky character. As I’ve said, Keri Russell’s pregnant Jenna is very unhappily married to an abusive man (Jeremy Sisto) and certainly not at all happy to be carrying his child. She’s completely apathetic about everything in life other than baking pies, the one thing she loves. She creates her own pies & then gives them special names such as the “I Hate My Husband” pie, which was a fun little touch throughout the movie. Her best friends, fellow waitresses played by Cheryl Hines & Adrienne Shelly, are equally bitter yet so damn likeable.

Nathan Fillion plays Keri Russell’s doctor and the (potential?) knight in shining armor. I really like Fillion (who doesn’t?!) and am glad he was in this as I’m sure some people watched it just because of him. As with everyone else, he’s also far from perfect and comes across as quite awkward. One of the biggest surprises, though, was the grumpy old man played by Andy Griffith. Andy Griffith of all people! He’s great in this, though – a lonely & angry old man who clearly cares about Russell’s character even though it’s not immediately obvious from his gruff exterior.

I’m worried that I’m not making these characters sound very nice… Believe me, I can’t stand movies that have characters you hate! This movie isn’t like that. Hmm… I suppose the closest comparison I can make is to say that the characters reminded me a bit of those on Seinfeld. Every character is seriously flawed and I like that. No one is perfect in life! But they all work perfectly together in this film & create a great subtle humor. The movie stays on the right side of the line – it’s never too mean-spirited and also never becomes annoyingly soppy or saccharine. I personally have no complaints about this movie – I loved the story, the characters, the relationships, the humor, and the great ending (which is beautiful & bittersweet if you know Adrienne Shelly’s tragic story. FYI – if you watch this, the little girl in it is Shelly’s real-life daughter Sophie). Yes, I like Waitress a lot. I think Adrienne Shelly was a very talented writer & it’s a shame that we’ll never get to see anything else she would have created. This movie is an honest look at motherhood & ends up being a love letter of sorts to her daughter, so it’s a lovely film to end up as her legacy.

My Rating: 8.5/10

**I have to add that I had NO idea that Waitress had been made into a musical on Broadway until I started writing this review & saw that it was recently nominated for four Tony Awards. I’d love to see what they’ve done with it! I hope it still captures the spirit of the film.

Also, I wanted to mention that Shelly’s husband Andy Ostroy set up The Adrienne Shelly Foundation after her death, which supports female filmmakers. You can read more about Adrienne Shelly, the Waitress musical, and her Foundation in a recent People article HERE. There’s also a good article at thecelebrityauction.com HERE which has more of the interview with Shelly’s husband in which he talks about her feelings while making Waitress. There’s not a lot of other information online – she really was an “indie queen” in her acting career (which was obvious from the almost complete lack of comments on my reviews for the rather obscure Hal Hartley films on Wednesday). 😉 If you’re curious about her work, I obviously recommend Waitress but, after that, you may want to check out those Hal Hartley films as well.


33 thoughts on “Waitress (2007) Review

  1. I really liked Waitress (though did just have to look up my own review because it’s been six years!) Obviously Shelly’s death is tragic for many reasons, but one of them is definitely that we won’t get to see what other stories she had to tell.

    • So glad you liked this one! I wasn’t sure how liked it was until getting comments on this review from others who feel the same. And it seems that guys DO like it as well! That makes me happy. : ) I think Shelly would’ve gone on to make so many more great films. What a horrible loss.

  2. “They say “write what you know”, right? I think Shelly did that & ended up writing a great & honest film because of it.”

    I love that line because so many movies that I’ve loved I see as clear products of the passion and experience and knowledge of the people who made it. I couldn’t be more in agreement there. And hey, who knows, maybe one day I’ll check this Out! I do really like Nathan Fillion

    • Yes! I know exactly what you mean. : ) You can TELL when a writer/director has really put their heart into a film. A movie ends up much better when that happens. You should give this one a go! You might like it. I love it. : )

  3. I’m with you, I never want to call this a “chick flick” because it’s just so good, but you know had this been a big studio project instead of an indie, that’s what it would be labeled. It’s such a sweet little film. What happened to Adrienne Shelly is so tragic. I always feel a bit of sadness when this film ends each time, but you’re right. It’s very bittersweet.

    • Yeah, it’s a shame they slap that label on so many films as I think people turn their noses up at what they assume are “chick flicks”. People probably missed out on this because they thought it was a silly chick flick – it’s so much better than that. That ending is so sad when she waves to her own daughter. : (

    • Thanks, Cindy! : ) Yeah, I so didn’t want to use the words “chick flick”. I think this is such a great, well-written film. I like Keri Russell too. I’ve even watched some of her films that ARE total “chick flicks”! lol. But she made them bearable. : )

  4. Oh I miss Adrienne! In my student years I watched Trust and The Unbelievable Truth many, many times, mostly for her performances. Waitress is one of my Mrs’s favourite movies!

    • I’m glad I’ve finally seen more of Shelly’s films but it’s sad that I didn’t know of her until hearing about her death. She was a great talent! You & your Mrs have very good taste. : ) I especially loved this film.

  5. Great review!

    I love Pretty Woman and I love chick-flicks! nothing wrong with them in my opinion 🙂

    This sounds pretty good though. I always thought it would probably be a lame film, but you have me interested now.

  6. Great review Miss Mutant! I have never seen this, but I definitely want to now 🙂

    Bah, everyone needs a chick flick now and again!! Not that this is one exactly, but you know what I mean 🙂

    (I’ve seen The Devil Wears Prada way too many times lol)

    • Thanks, Emma! : ) You should check it out. It’s a fun, well-written film. I don’t mind a chick flick when they’re not TOO dumb! The Devil Wears Prada was a good one. : ) (But, yeah – I don’t like to call Waitress a chick flick. It isn’t REALLY. But it is FOR chicks. I suppose. Lol). : )

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  9. Reblogged this on Cinema Parrot Disco and commented:

    Today would’ve been Adrienne Shelly’s 51st birthday so I’m reblogging my review of her clever, quirky & bittersweet film Waitress. This is a favorite of mine and I’d like for more people to be aware of her work. I wish we could have seen more of it…

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