Waitress
PG-13
Entertainment: +4
Acceptability: +1/2

Keri Russell, Jeremy Sisto, Cheryl Hines, Andy Griffith. Comedy. Written & directed by Adrienne Shelly.

FILM SYNPOSIS: A waitress has a dream of a better life. But doggone it, life keeps getting in the way.

PREVIEW REVIEW: The Bible instructs us to get outside ourselves. We are to put God first, others second and ourselves last. It is a sign of faith and a proof of God's love indwelling us when we so order our lives. Ironically, that structure is the best way to find peace and fulfillment. In its quirky way, Waitress exemplifies that premise. Trapped in a loveless marriage to an abusive wacko, Jenna (Keri Russell) fights off depression by making pies for the restaurant where she waits tables. She puts such skill and dedication into her baking that customers find a little piece of Heaven whenever they partake. Upon learning that she is pregnant after a night when her husband got her drunk, Jenna further relieves her frustrations by applying exotic names to her baked goods such as I Hate My Husband pie, Kick In the Pants pie and I dont Want Earl's Baby pie.

Though she is unhappy, frustrated and stuck, Jenna shows compassion for others. And though she doesn't want a baby by a man she has come to despise, she realizes that the unborn child has rights and she does everything possible to see that the fetus is getting what it needs to develop correctly. (This is an unusual theme to find in a Hollywood movie these days.) Without uttering the term pro-life, the film suggests that this stance is valid and just. Being pregnant, without any money, Jenna is further trapped in a loveless marriage; yet, terminating the pregnancy is never considered.

Outstanding, a poignant film that makes you laugh out loud and ultimately touches your soul, Waitress is as delicious as Jenna's Kick In The Pants pie. On one level, it is somewhat fluffy, but as you savor the story, dialogue and performances, you begin to realize that it is layered and thoughtful.

Out of utter discouragement with this passionless marriage, Jenna begins an affair with the new doctor a married man. Now, I wouldn't justify such a deed, but if you stick with the film, you'll see Jenna realize that her actions are wrong. When we finally see the doctor's wife, it becomes clear that Jenna's actions will hurt this woman. I don't want to give anything away, but I will say lessons are served to the audience by the depiction of the adulterous affair. Despite her giving into wrongdoing, Jenna is a moral person and that morality ultimately prevails.

As for the sanctity of life, there is a wonderful moment. I hate to give anything away, but this is such an important statement being made by the filmmaker, that I must spotlight it. Jenna has not wanted this baby. But upon its birth, with just one look, she falls instantly in love with the infant. Suddenly, the film is an inspirational parable.

A horrible deed has added poignancy to this production. Writer/director Adrienne Shelly, who also has a supporting role as one of Jenna's waitress buddies, was murdered before her film was released. Those involved in the production finished it and made sure it was distributed, paying homage to a gifted artist and friend.

As we enter into a season of superhero gimmickry, Adrienne Shelly has reminded moviegoers that the true special effects are story, dialogue and performances. Andy Griffith has a supporting role and in one scene delights us with his description of his favorite Jenna pie. As he lovingly describes the tasty dessert, we suddenly realize he's talking about her life. It is a terrific screen moment, proficiently handled by the veteran actor/comedian. And from a one-time actor's insight, I can tell you that every moment Keri Russell is on screen is downright magical. The actress (TVs Felicity and movies Mission Impossible 3, The Upside of Marriage) has pitch perfect comic timing and handles dramatic moments with truth and depth. It is a balanced, always mesmerizing performance. There is so much going on in her character and the actress relays it all. Will the Oscar folks remember Ms. Russell come awards season? They should.

I praise this film for its positives, but read the content portion before attending. Please remember that I see so many films that aren't smartly written or that don't take regard for the sanctity of life. So when I see a film like Waitress, one that is smartly written and contains positives, I like to spotlight it for its artistic qualities. That said, it does contain sexual matters, including adultery. I'm not suggesting that we support films that go against God's instructions. I am aware that many do not feel we should see a film that portrays sexual situations. Indeed, the media bombards us with sexuality. But this film reminded me that there are people all around us who feel trapped, unloved and frightened. I hope this movie aids in making me sensitive to others. And my prayer is that if any reader is going through such a trail, know you are being prayed for this very day and that our Lord loves you. It's a dark valley, I know, we all spend time there. And God seems nowhere to be found. Just remember, even David, who was beloved of God, spent time in that valley. He asked God, where are you? He wasn't just having a bad day. There were times when God seemed to have left him. Oh, but He's there. Read the Psalms. In fact, read the Bible. Read it. And may God bless you and may your days in the valley be short and ultimately rewarding. See, I told you this film affected me.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Distributor: Fox Searchlight Pictures

Summary
Crude Language: there are several crude sexual comments and references to the male anatomy.
Obscene Language: Six or seven minor expletives (damns and hells) and two obscenities (the f-word and the s-word).
Profanity: I caught no misuse of Gods name.
Violence: The husband abuses his wife mentally, but he also slaps and pushes her. There is an element of danger every time he is around. He is obviously mentally unbalanced.
Sexual Intercourse: There are several sexual situations, not overly graphic.
Nudity: None
Homosexual Conduct: None
Sexually Suggestive Action/Dialog: There are several conversations dealing with sex.
Drug Abuse: Some drinking.
Other: None
Running Time: 104 minutes
Intended Audience: Adults

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