''Never f**k with the people that serve you food!'' goes the apt tagline for Waiting. Evoking a cross between an indie American Pie and a crude Office Space, this film might not be for the faint of heart or the frequent diners out. Here's hoping real-life food-industry personnel don't see it. And, might we add, they're really all very lovely people.
Pity Mitch (John Francis Daley). It's his first day on the job at Shenanigans--a take on the nationwide-chain Bennigan's. The waiter who trains him, Monty (Ryan Reynolds), is the same one he looks down on him. Monty shows Mitch the ropes, as well as the cooks' genitalia. Sorry, there's no other way to put it. See, there's this game that the male employees play, whereby...let's just say it's one of many unspeakable ''games'' they play that'll make you watch the film as you would a horror movie: your hands covering your eyes with just enough space between two fingers to catch a glimpse. And these are just Mitch's first moments on the job. Over the course of his shift, he'll meet a twenty-something named Dean (Justin Long), who's trying to go straight--that is, do something else with his life; a pushover (Patrick Benedict), whose timidity carries over to the urinal; and a veteran waitress (Alanna Ubach), who barks profane tirades about her patrons but not to them. People knock the MPAA's sense of humor, but if they truly didn't have one, this gross-out flick would be slapped with an NC-17 rating.
A film set in a restaurant falls squarely on the shoulders of its actors. Thankfully, Reynolds and company make good, carrying the film and its script of top-that one-liners and, well, shenanigans. Reynolds, while now a bankable star in avenues other than comedy, clearly has a knack for this stuff. His comedic timing and delivery are truly first-rate, never more so than in Waiting, excelling in the sheer vulgarity he has to shell out. Dodgeball's Long, as Dean, is downright earnest next to his buddy Monty, but it's his role to defer to Reynolds' eloquent sarcasm. Of course, this doesn't totally preclude him from joining in on the fun. He's just forced to take more barbs than he can dish out. Anna Faris (from the Scary Movie series) flies even more under the radar, as Monty's ex, the only one that stands in his way of proclaiming his prowess second to none. Also making pitch-perfect appearances as malevolent employees are fringe-sters Luis Guzman, Chi McBride, Dane Cook and Andy Milonakis, with Anchorman's David Koechner as the manager.
Waiting is not the type of movie in which a separate director and writer is required--it's a package deal. That's because--and let's be honest here--a film set almost entirely in one location without a single stunt person or special effect doesn't need more than one voice. To this effect, writer/director Rob McKittrick makes his first foray into each arena. Needless to say, his directorial debut is almost a non-entity, but that's more complementary than detrimental on a project like this. His stinging commentary, on the other hand, displays a comedic deftness that is worth keeping an eye on in the future, especially if Waiting does any business at the box office.
Waiting is a mix of perverse highs and hopelessly pathetic lows. Still, there's a few more of the former than the latter, enough to force a depraved smile. Just be sure to steer clear of the buttered popcorn at the concessions.