on October 07, 2005 by Mark Keizer
In the life of a moviegoer, there is a gray area between being too old for Disney and too young for the classics. "Waiting" is the kind of puerile, crass, low-budget comedy that passes for entertainment during these lamentable years, until the onset of maturity renders such films pathetic.

The movie, based on the waitering experience of first-time writer/director Rob McKittrick, sounds promising. There's not a person on Earth who hasn't wondered what their waiter really thinks of him and what really goes on in the sacred realm of a restaurant's kitchen. But McKittrick's script, which never met a penis joke it didn't like, refuses to raise itself to the clever, subversive level that made the similarly-themed "Office Space" such a cult success. Scattershot and under the mistaken assumption that vulgarity is its own reward, "Waiting" isn't about waiting tables. It's about a group of unlikable and obnoxious jerks who have found one roof under which they can be obnoxious and unlikable.

The film takes place over the course of one day at ShenaniganZ, a generic chain restaurant that probably serves Jalapeno Poppers and Deep-Fried Onion Blossoms. Skirt-chasing waiter Monty (Ryan Reynolds) is in charge of mentoring Mitch (John Francis Daley), a new employee who has no idea what evil lurks within the bowels of the establishment. Soon he will learn that the staff revels in a competition that involves tricking one employee into looking at another employee's genitals. If you're caught looking, you get kicked in the ass. This turns out to be of major concern to all involved, except Dean (Justin Long). Increasingly fed up with the shenanigans at ShenaniganZ, Dean is offered the assistant manager job at the very moment he realizes that the waitering game is a career dead-end.

Throughout the film, all the standard kitchen felonies are perpetrated: Meat is dropped on the floor and put back on the plate, and the cooks befoul a rude diner's meal. The staff only cares about waitering as it applies to sex, underage sex, bad sex and lack of sex, subjects that don't require a restaurant location. But, with the exception of the rare insight into the waiter's mind, sex comprises a majority of everyone's agenda.

Top-billed Ryan Reynolds is becoming a toxic smarm factory, with none of the self-effacing charm of his spiritual predecessor, Chevy Chase. Although Reynolds may be a hero to sarcastic and emotionally numb kids the world over, someday he may want to consider appearing in a real movie. The meager laughs are courtesy of the supporting cast, which, considering the budget and the script, is aces. David Koechner, who's enlivened "Anchorman" and "40-Year Old Virgin," is terrific as the restaurant manager, and the priceless Luis Guzman and standup superstar Dane Cook work overtime as chefs. Justin Long does "Waiting" the genuine service of underplaying his role, which gives the movie some sorely needed heart. MTV It Boy Andy Milonakis can't act worth a darn, but he gets laughs anyway as a busboy.

This is a low-budget production all the way, with cinematography overstating the achievement of using a camera to capture 24 consecutive images per second on film. The main restaurant set is appropriately depressing, while some okay songs add occasional energy. But when it comes to a smart and witty take on the food service industry, we're still waiting. Starring Ryan Reynolds, Anna Faris, Justin Long and David Koechner. Directed and written by Rob McKittrick. Produced by Adam Rosenfelt, Stavros Merjos, Jay Rifkin, Jeff Balis and Rob Green. A Lions Gate release. Comedy. Rated PG-13 strong crude and sexual humor, pervasive language and some drug use. Running time: 93 min

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