Directed by Rob McKittrick. Starring Ryan Reynolds, Anna Faris, Justin Long, David Koechner, Luis Guzmán, Chi McBride, John Francis Daley, Andy Milonakis, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Alanna Ubach, Wendie Malick. (2005, R, 93 min.)
REVIEWED By Kimberley Jones, Fri., Oct. 7, 2005
Rightly or wrongly, they gave Tarantino hell for inspiring a raft of Reservoir Dogs knockoffs, all those mid-Nineties fast-talking, gun-loving crime capers du jour. I wonder then if anyone will finger Kevin Smith for providing the seedling for this rot. Clerks and Waiting … (set, natch, in the restaurant industry) share not only a premise based on the drudgery of the workplace, but also a flat visual style and a fixation on sex and all its attendant bodily fluids. But whereas Clerks was an inspired piece of raunch, Waiting … never aims higher than the urinal (indeed, one waiter’s inability to pee in public counts as a significant plot thread). The ostensible heart of the film is Dean (Long), a community-college dropout who’s seen his potential dwindle after years of service at a chain restaurant called Shenanigan’s. Dean’s lot isn’t so bad: Among his fellow waiters is his best pal, Monty (Two Guys and a Girl’s ever-smirking Reynolds), whose defining character trait is a predilection for boning underage girls. Additionally, there’s the hot lesbian bartender (Chriqui), two wannabe-gangsta busboys (one of whom is played by cult darling Andy Milonakis), and a host of greasy-haired, loogey-shooting cooks (including Soderbergh favorite Luis Guzmán, slumming) who pass the time by rubbing foodstuffs on their genitals and playing the "penis-showing game." The elaborate rules of that game boil down to – you got it – brandishing one’s penis (and, for extra points, one’s testicles) at unsuspecting coworkers. That’s about as funny as it gets in this frequently offensive and doggedly disgusting film. The acting hails strictly from the sitcom-school of delivery, the film is technically inept (certain stories appear to have been sliced and diced in the editing room), and the humor – in which the word "faggot" figures as 90% of the punchlines – traffics wholly in crude stereotypes. (Waiting … is not unlike solitary confinement with your 13-year-old little brother who may or may not be a latent homosexual – the theory going that boys who call other boys "fag" doth protest too much). While Waiting … does occasionally capture the in-the-trenches camaraderie of the service industry, mostly it serves as a 90-minute-long PSA on the dangers of enraging your waiter. And one last burning question: Were those stunt balls, or Guzmán’s very own wagging at us?