Wait’ for restaurant comedy on DVD

Amy Weiss

At Shenanigan’s the jokes are as mediocre as the menu. The restaurant, the setting for writer-director Rob McKittrick’s debut film, Waiting…, effectively captures the ambience and antics of our favorite neighborhood dining spot (think Bennigan’s, Chili’s or Applebee’s) but fails to deliver much in the way of comic creativity.

This day-in-the-life flick follows Monty (Ryan Reynolds) as he trains first-time employee Mitch (John Francis Daley), and Monty’s best friend Dean (Justin Long), as he struggles to accept a promotion and daydreams about kick-starting his future.

Reynolds (Van Wilder) proves he can convincingly play a lowlife jackass, but his lackluster comedy can’t carry the whole movie. Moreover, McKittrick can’t seem to decide whether Dean should be funny or admirable, and Long’s (Dodgeball) performance is flaky and uninteresting as a result.

The comedic highlight of the film is the behind-the-scenes dynamic of the kitchen. The chefs (Dane Cook, Chi McBride and others) deliver several shocking methods of food preparation and a few sizeable laughs along the way.

If the film succeeds at anything, it is, unfortunately, in providing a somewhat accurate account of restaurant employee life. The characters are outrageous and exaggerated, but not unbelievable. In suburban eateries across America, there are probably managers as lame as Dan (David Koechner), and guys like Dean, who would give anything to avoid waiting tables.

The problem is, it’s not exactly enjoyable to watch. Career misfortunes can be funny, but Waiting… is no Office Space. The film lacks the script, the direction and the cast to produce much more than a 93-minute reminder of why your job isn’t so bad.

If you need such reassurance, or a quick fix of bathroom humor, check it out. Otherwise, save yourself the obligatory tip and opt for the take-out alternative: Wait for the DVD.

– Amy Weiss