waiting (Rob McKittrick). 93 minutes. Opens Friday (October 7). For venues and times, see Movies, page 99. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
After seeing Waiting , you won't have quite an appetite for eating in a family-style restaurant again. Rob McKittrick 's gleefully sophomoric comedy follows a dozen or so employees of a Kelsey's-like chain called Shenanigan's in a bleak stripmall in Anywhere, Suburbia.
Over a 24-hour period, the film tracks the lives of various slacker waiters (the title's a clever pun), busboys and cooks as they distract themselves with sexist and homophobic pranks, try to get in each other's pants and humiliate rude patrons by doing nasty things to their meals.
Anyone who's worked in a restaurant will recognize the types: the smug career server ( Ryan Reynolds ) who preys on young customers and straight female staff, the easily agitated cook ( Luis Guzman , in a role he was born to play), the underemployed guy ( Justin Long ) who wants to be doing something else but can't give up his tips.
First-time writer/director McKittrick adds a few original touches to the formula, such as two white gangsta-rap-wannabe busboys and a dishwasher who dispenses psychological advice.
His script, besides providing insight into how people delude themselves that their dead-end jobs are temporary, also has a satisfying narrative arc.
It's crude and rude but not brainless. Reynolds's standoff with ex-flame Anna Faris is a terrific comic set-piece, full of one-liners, but also completely believable given the characters.
The likeable (if second-tier) cast makes this feel like a sequel to Fast Times At Ridgemont High, with the students now in their 20s and staving off adulthood for as long as they can.
Worth a look, if you can stomach the sight of steak served medium rare with a few human garnishes.