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MOVIE INFO

Director:
Rob McKittrick
Cast:
Ryan Reynolds, Anna Faris, Justin Long, David Koechner, Luis Guzmán, Dane Cook, Chi McBride, John Francis Daley
Writing Credits:
Rob McKittrick

Tagline:
No one's gonna make it big here.

Synopsis:
Upon his arrival at Shenaniganz, a suburban chain restaurant bedecked with decorative knick-knacks, new wait staff trainee Mitch (John Francis Daley) is placed under the wing of Monty (Ryan Reynolds), a veteran who first informs his young charge that all male employees engage in a game in which the object is to get others to unwittingly look at your genitals. Unwittingly, Mitch has stumbled into a world where servers - such as angry Naomi (Alana Ubach), and coquettish Serena (Anna Faris), along with a rowdy kitchen staff - led by randy Raddimus (Luis Guzman)--are at constant war with their demanding, low-tipping customers. Meanwhile, waiter Dean (Justin Long) must decide whether to take a promotion to manager or set out for brighter horizons beyond birthday songs and whimsically-named appetizers.

Box Office:
Budget
$1.125 million.
Opening Weekend
$6.021 million on 1652 screens.
Domestic Gross
$16.101 million.

MPAA:
Rated NR

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 1.78:1/16x9
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
English Dolby 2.0
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
Closed-captioned

Runtime: 94 min.
Price: $28.98
Release Date: 2/7/2006

Bonus:
Disc One
• Deleted Scenes
• Outtakes/Alternate Takes
• “That Little Extra” Documentary
• Soundtrack Preview
• Trailers
Disc Two
• Expanded Telestrator Commentary with Writer/Director Rob McKittrick and Producer Jeff Balis
• “The Works” Documentary
• “Sending It Back: The Real Dish on Waiting Tables” Featurette


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EQUIPMENT
Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Waiting: Special Edition (2005)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (February 20, 2006)

Since I spent 10 years as a restaurant employee before I began my “real career” after grad school, 2005’s comedy Waiting… should be right up my alley. No, I never worked at a mid-scale chain like the Applebee’s/Ruby Tuesday/Bennigan’s/Friday’s wannabe shown here, but restaurant work is universal. There’s not a lot of difference between an obnoxious customer at one level and another, so this flick seemed like a potential winner.

Unfortunately, it never remotely fulfilled its potential. Waiting… focuses mostly on the early-life crisis that affects Shenanigaz waiter Dean (Justin Long). The 22-year-old gets pressure from his mother to attend a four-year college, and she also badgers him with comparisons to former high school classmate Chett (Travis Resor), a recent grad who nets a lucrative job. Dean faces a crossroads when Shenaniganz manager Dan (David Koechner) offers him the job as assistant manager, as he worries that this move up would cause complacency and doom him to a restaurant life forever.

Others involved in the movie include fellow waiters like Dean’s semi-girlfriend Amy (Kaitlin Doubleday), wise-guy Monty (Ryan Reynolds), his ex-girlfriend Serena (Anna Faris), wimpy Calvin (Robert Patrick Benedict) and angry Naomi (Alanna Ubach). There’s also cook Raddimus (Luis Guzman) and his sexy bartender girlfriend Danielle (Jordan Ladd), lesbian bartender Tyla (Emmanuelle Chriqui), philosophical dishwasher Bishop (Chi McBride), sexy underage hostess Natasha (Vanessa Lengies) and gangsta wannabe busboys Nick (Andy Milonakis) and T-Dog (Max Kasch). In addition gets the assignment to train a new waiter named Mitch (John Francis Daley).

Outside of the themes related to Dean’s dilemma, don’t expect much story here. The overriding obsession relates to a restaurant game in which male employees try to get others to look at their genitals. We also learn of Monty’s fascination with underage girls and watch his attempts to score with Natasha before she hits her upcoming 18th birthday. Otherwise, the movie mainly focuses on the shenanigans during one evening at Shenaniganz.

Waiting… clearly aspires to be the sort of comedy made 25 years ago. It looks and feels a lot like ensemble pieces such as Caddyshack or Fast Times at Ridgemont High. The film takes on a very self-consciously early Eighties vibe – indeed, the style ensures that it often could literally pass for an older effort, and it also embraces the mix of broad comedy and coming of age drama seen in the earlier movies.

Unfortunately, it lacks either the depth of Fast Times or the occasional comedic brilliance of Caddyshack. Though many regard the latter as a classic, I think it falters due to the Noonan elements. Caddyshack works when it concentrates on the abundance of comedic talent it possesses, but it drags when it focuses on the lesser lights.

In regard to its storytelling, Waiting… compares more closely to Caddyshack. Neither offers a concise plot, as both prefer to jump from one situation to another without much cohesion. Caddyshack made this work because its cast included comic geniuses like Bill Murray and Rodney Dangerfield. Waiting… includes plenty of talent but no one with those chops is on hand to carry the movie.

That makes cast comparisons between Waiting… and Fast Times more apt. Though its cast may not achieve the heights experienced by the stunning roster of Fast Times, we do find some more than capable actors here, and I can’t fault the ensemble for the flick’s weaknesses.

Actually, I will admit I’m getting tired of Reynolds’ act. He plays this same kind of smarmy wiseass in most of his movies, but he’s just not very good at it, and he’s never quite as a funny as he seems to think he is. Still, I like folks like Long and some of the others, and we also find more established talents like Guzman and McBride. Too bad they can’t overcome the movie’s many flaws.

The film doesn’t know what to do with all those characters. It reduces the parts to goofy sight gags at best, and ignores them at worst. The women receive the short end of the stick. Outside of Ubach – who still doesn’t receive a lot of screen time – they’re left without much to do. Faris gets some stinging lines aimed at Reynolds, but otherwise they’re essentially eye candy and little more.

One main problem comes from the flick’s tone. One minute it’ll embrace the broadest, most disgusting humor imaginable, while in the next, it’ll attempt a form of realism. The two sides don’t fit and they give the movie an awfully unbalanced feel.

Waiting… had potential because there’s just so many damned funny incidents that come with the job. The filmmakers didn’t need to go over the top and embellish these; they’d work just fine on their own. The flick’s best bits come from the few that actually connect with the real world. Those moments of verisimilitude entertained me because I could relate to them. It’s like the old saying goes: it’s funny because it’s true. Waiting… needs more slices of life and fewer shots of guys manipulating their balls to startle co-workers.

Really, couldn’t they think of a better running gag than that whole dick exposure thing? It wasn’t funny from the start, and it sure didn’t improve with age. The only over the top parts of the movie that work come from Ubach’s hilariously nasty turn as riot grrl Naomi. It’s a hoot when we see her go from shrieking and hateful to smiling and pleasant for the paying customers.

Fans who stick through the end credits will also find a funny moment. There we find “Nick and T-Dog’s P-H-Fat Rap”, complete with a music video. This incredibly violent and misogynistic track is a very clever spoof of the usual rap fare.

Too bad the rest of Waiting… failed to display that level of inspiration. Usually content to cater to the lowest common denominator, the film blows its chance to have fun with the restaurant profession. It sticks with gross out gags and little else. With its incoherent storytelling and thin characters, the movie wastes a good cast and a fun premise.

Note that this DVD covers the “Unrated and Raw” edition of Waiting…. According to a representative for writer/director Rob McKittrick, here’s how the two versions differ:

“As far as the unrated cut goes, the ‘unrated’ portions mostly concern the ball and bush shots near the end of the movie that had to be changed for the MPAA. For the bush shot, the camera is slightly closer than it was theatrically. For the ball shot in the theatrical, they were just hanging out of the boxers; this take is used on Disc Two during ‘The Works’ at the beginning of the Luis Guzman casting section. Another unrated change is that the rap video during the credits is uncensored, while the theatrical had words bleeped very arbitrarily.

“The other changes concern things that made Rob cringe in the theatrical, so he changed them for the unrated. One is an additional bit with the redneck couple where he gives Dean (Justin Long) a bit more attitude during the meal and the deletion of the very beginning of the Dean/Amy resolution scene near the end of the film. (Rob felt the line that began the scene didn't make any sense, so he cut it for the unrated). Ultimately, with things being added and taken out, the unrated cut only runs 9 seconds longer than the theatrical.”


The DVD Grades: Picture C+/ Audio C+/ Bonus A-

Waiting… appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. The visuals were good enough to merit a “C+“, but some disappointments came along for the ride.

The biggest distraction related to contrast. The movie usually looked too bright, and that gave it a slightly washed-out look much of the time. This wasn’t a tremendous problem, but it made the flick seem somewhat faded. Shadows were too light as well.

Sharpness usually worked fine, though exceptions occurred. Perhaps due to the brightness of the image, some shots took on a mildly ill-defined appearance. I thought much of the movie was acceptably accurate and concise, but not with the consistency I’d like. I noticed no jagged edges or shimmering, and edge enhancement was minimal. I also detected no signs of source defects.

The excessive brightness caused colors to look less vibrant than I’d expect. The movie featured a fairly natural and warm palette, and the hues often looked quite good. Nonetheless, they could appear a little flat at times because of the contrast issues. All of these concerns added up to a pretty mediocre transfer.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Waiting… also wasn’t anything special, though it worked fine for this sort of movie. Music dominated the film, as it presented a never-ceasing assortment of pop/rock tunes. These showed good stereo imaging, and the flick also boasted pretty decent delineation of effects. Not surprisingly, these stayed with general restaurant atmosphere. The forward speakers heavily dominated, though the surrounds occasionally a bit of atmosphere as well. The soundfield stayed modest, and that was fine.

For the most part, audio quality seemed good. I thought speech was less than stellar, however, as the lines often sounded somewhat distant and wooden. No problems with intelligibility or edginess occurred, however, so I didn’t have any major complaints. Music appeared pretty lively and dynamic, and decent bass response came along with those tracks. The effects did absolutely nothing to tax the track, but they were clean and accurate. This was a perfectly adequate soundtrack.

On this two-DVD set, Waiting… provides a surprisingly long roster of extras. Starting on Disc One, we get a collection of 13 Deleted Scenes. These fill a total of seven minutes and six seconds. I’m sure you can do the math and figure out that none of them last very long. The most significant one shows the other waiters as they tell Dean it’s okay for him to take the management job. Otherwise, we find small gags and tidbits that fail to add much.

19 Outtakes/Alternate Takes run a total of 14 minutes, 55 seconds. This offers exactly what the title describes, as we see lots of raw and unused footage. It’s fun for fans of the movie who want to check out different versions of the bits.

A documentary called That Little Extra goes for 19 minutes and two seconds. It mixes behind the scenes bits and interviews. We hear from director Rob McKittrick, co-producer Dean Shull, producer Jeff Balis, production designer Devorah Herbert, and actors Anna Faris, Ryan Reynolds, Alanna Ubach, Andy Milonakis, Dane Cook, Vanessa Lengies, Luis Guzman, David Koechner, Justin Long, John Francis Daley, Kaitlin Doubleday, and Robert Patrick Benedict. “Extra” runs through the project’s origins and development, how McKittrick landed the gig as director and all the problems faced along the path, casting, designing the restaurant, cinematography, the dick-showing game, and the cast’s impressions of McKittrick as a director.

To go with a goofy movie, we get a pretty goofy documentary. Though parts of “Extra” don’t take things particularly seriously, we do learn some nice details about the production. It rushes through the pre-production hurdles, though; I’d have liked more background there. We also don’t get much detail about casting or the other areas. “Extra” does serve as a moderately informative and entertaining overview, though.

In the Soundtrack Preview area, we find samples of three songs featured in the movie. We get snippets of Alternative Champs’ “Gay 90s”, Snatches of Pink’s “Dance”, and The Talk’s “I Started Running”. We also find a notation that indicates we can get the soundtrack on itunes.

DVD One ends with some Trailers. It includes ads for National Lampoon’s Van Wilder and Ultimate Avengers.

Over on Disc Two, we begin with an Expanded Telestrator Commentary with director McKittrick and producer Balis. They sit together for a running, screen-specific chat. Actually, it’s too damned screen-specific, largely due to the telestrator gimmick. I don’t like visual commentaries in general because they add almost nothing to the experience. Telestrator commentaries are worse because they turn into a distraction. The participants worry more about scribbling onscreen than about giving us good notes, and that becomes a nuisance here.

Note that they also pause and even rewind the film at times. This means that the commentary runs longer than the movie’s 94 minutes. The commentary ultimately fills 130 minutes, so expect a lot of times when they pause the movie’s action.

The quality of the material they provide doesn’t do much to redeem the track. We hear about how McKittrick’s experiences influenced the movie, the cast and performances, sets, and various behind the scenes tidbits. Much of the time the guys do little more than tell us what parts of the movie they love; since the answer is pretty much all of it, that gets old. Occasionally we find nice tidbits, especially when we learn the inspirations for various gags. I also like the long discussion of nudity in the film and its portrayal of the female nether regions.

I will admit the commentary improves as it progresses. McKittrick and Balis eventually adapt to the format and they start to offer greater insights. They also bicker a lot, and that adds some amusement. Still, it’s not a terribly good track overall. Despite some good moments, too much of the commentary seems tedious and not very informative.

After this we get a long documentary entitled The Works. It runs a massive 85 minutes, 20 seconds, and it also includes many branching segments. These are optional; hit “enter” when an icon appears onscreen to check out additional tidbits. We find 22 of these, and they add another 60 minutes, 25 seconds of footage. (Note that you can access these separately in the area of the DVD called “Side Dishes”.)

“The Works” includes interviews with McKittrick, Shull, Balis, Herbert, casting director Annie McCarthy, cinematographer Matthew Irving, composer Adam Gorgoni, and actors Dane Cook, John Francis Daley, Andy Milonakis, David Koechner, Justin Long, Jordan Ladd, Max Kasch, Skyler Stone, Robert Patrick Benedict, Kaitlin Doubleday, Alanna Ubach, and Vanessa Lengies. The show covers the origins of the story and how it made its way to the screen, casting and performances, the film’s visual style and cinematography, set design, shooting the kitchen scenes, the flick’s music and its ending rap, relationships among the castmembers and various anecdotes from the shoot, and final thoughts about the movie.

“Works” features some joking around but still gets into plenty of good information. The best parts deal with cast and characters, as it includes lots of fun notes about those areas. The actors definitely come to the forefront here, though it’s too bad folks like Ryan Reynolds and Luis Guzman don’t appear. “Works” also develops just enough about the rest of the production to be informative. The show doesn’t offer a complete recap of the film’s creation, but it gives us a lot of enjoyable and entertaining material.

What do we find in the branching components? These mostly offer tidbits of commentary from various participants. We get remarks from Justin Long, Matthew Irving, Devorah Herbert, Kaitlin Doubleday, Robert Patrick Benedict, Alanna Ubach, Jordan Ladd, Adam Gorgoni, Andy Milonakis, Max Kasch, John Francis Daley, Vanessa Lengies, David Koechner, Dane Cook and Skyler Stone. We also find screentests for Benedict, Ubach, Milonakis, Kasch, John Francis Daley, Stone, Lengies, David Koechner, Dane Cook and “Katelan” Doubleday.

Most of the commentaries play it straight, though Long, Milonakis, Koechner and Cook go for a comedic bent. The different tracks occasionally provide some decent details, but I can’t recall many truly informative notes. The screen tests are much more interesting, as they give us lots of interesting footage.

A short featurette called Sending It Back: The Real Dish on Waiting Tables comes next. The six-minute and five-second piece shows current and former servers as they chat about their experiences. We get notes from Chris Keefe, Barbie Solinsky and Marci Shaklee. They mostly talk about bad customers and attempts at revenge. This ends up as a moderately amusing piece but not anything special.

Despite occasional gags that aptly recreate the experience of restaurant work, most of Waiting… focuses on cheesy toilet humor. There’s a lot of crassness and little actual inspiration. The DVD offers average picture and audio but comes with a wealth of supplements. If you like the movie, this is a good disc, but I can’t recommend it as a blind buy.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.2 Stars Number of Votes: 15
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