Waitress

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waitress posterAfter having it recommended to me no less than a dozen times, I watched Waitress the other night. I thought it got off to a good, if not great, start. I immediately liked Keri Russell's character, Jenna, and liked her friends and fellow waitresses Becky (Cheryl Hines) and Dawn ( director Adrienne Shelly) as well. Andy Griffith's turn as Old Joe was absolutely fantastic. I didn't at all understand why Jenna stayed with her horrific husband Earl (Jeremy Sisto), since it took him most of the film to actually become abusive and she didn't at first seem to be afraid of him, but I figured that would work itself out. I loved that pregnant Jenna didn't even pretend to be excited--so refreshing! When she first meets Dr. Pomatter (Nathan Fillion) and tells him in no uncertain terms that she'd prefer not to be congratulated about her pregnancy, I almost clapped.

But the way things culminated really ruined Waitress for me. In my head, the perfect ending was that she breaks it off with both Earl and Pomatter, has the baby, gives it up for adoption (maybe to Pomatter and his wife, since he seems to be so gung-ho about it), and goes away to open her own pie shop. She doesn't wait until after she has the baby to "see the light" and get rid of both skanky Earl and sleazy Dr. P. She doesn't break up with Earl and then leave everyone else in the room to deal with him freaking out why she makes googly eyes at the baby. And, most of all, ,she doesn't suddenly change her mind--a mind that has been pretty much made up for nine months--and get all excited about motherhood.

The ending of Waitress wouldn't have bothered me so much had it not been sold to me--both by the people to whom I spoke about it before seeing it and by the first hour and a half of the film itself--as something slightly subversive (don't get me started on how sad it is that the idea that every woman isn't just dying to have a baby is subversive). It's great that Jenna gets it together to get rid of Earl and end her dependence on Dr. P.--it's just lame that she needs baby-lust as inspiration to do it. Doing what she wants to do with her life and being happy for her own sake ought to be reason enough. Because it isn't, Waitress ends up seeming less subversive and more status quo.

2 Comments

Being a mom myself, and a teenage one at that who never wanted to have kids, I viewed this movie a little differently. Seeing her fall in love with the baby felt to me very much like a very real human connection being made, and for her, I thought it was subversive for that alone. That she ended up allowing herself to be open to a thing she never wanted and realizing it was wholly different than that thing she'd never wanted...I don't know. I think I've stopped making sense now.

I hated it. Haaaaated. First, the time frame is some kind of blend between 50s diner-era pie shop where women stay with husbands for no good reason and...now.

Earl seems like kind of a jerk, but nowhere near as bad as her co-workers try to make him. She treats him with such scorn and derision - maybe some counseling would have solved all their problems.

And the doctor - isn't that kind of thing ILLEGAL if not unethical?

And then and then and then...you're right, I hate stories that assume a baby is the big brass ring that will solve all problems (Cold Mountain, The Horse Whisperer). Feh.

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