Another Piece of Pie, Please
It's not every day Hollywood produces a purely feel good fantasy live action fairy tale, but that's what it has seemed to do with Waitress. It's simple and predictable, but that's all a part of it's charm. Maybe it's because Hollywood didn't really produce this one. Waitress was a Sundance hit this year, and while it's not quite charming as last year's breakthrough, Little Miss Sunshine, it definitely has some of the same allure to it. Of course, no matter how sweet the film itself is, it will be shrouded with sadness as it cannot escape the tragedy surrounding Adrienne Shelly, its writer/director/actress', murder just mere months before the movie's screening. Ironically, the movie does offer up a sense of optimism and hope by conveying the message that no matter how dismal the situation may be, you are ultimately in charge of your own destiny and can change your fortunes by sticking to your beliefs.
Kerri Russel plays Jenna, a sweet southern waitress and pie chef stuck in a miserable marriage and a thankless job who's only solace is hiding away to create her famously tasty pies. She is a dreamer who envisions herself escaping to a better life with a pie shop of her own, but when she gets pregnant by her emotionally abusive husband (Jeremy Sisto), she finds herself even more trapped than before. Without a baby she could plot an escape, but a child would make an exit all the more complicated. Abortion is never an option for her, which is an interesting comment on society. As far as she is concerned, a child would ruin her dreams, yet she won't even consider terminating the pregnancy - the word abortion isn't mentioned even once. An American fairy tale would never tolerate an abortion, so Jenna makes some excuse for why she needs to keep the baby. Narratively, the baby is needed to introduce her to (and keep her in touch with) her cute, yet married, OBGYN, Dr. Pomatter (Nathan Fillion). Their instant attraction leads to an affair neither one seems to care all that much about hiding. Interestingly, one might think that two married people engaging in an affair with one another would be something punishable by American movie standards, however neither character is penalized for his or her behavior.
To help her alleviate her misery, Jenna dreams about the pies she could make which would would mirror her situation. The desserts all have creative and whimsical names like, "'I don't want to have Earl's baby' Pie." Waitress takes a new spin on the American preoccupation with Pie; it brings back the pure connotation which had been besmirched by the American Pie movies. Once again, Pie becomes a icon of an idyllic American existence. Jenna is a small town waitress who uses her relationship to the pastry to envision a better life and thus equates pie with wholesome goodness.
Jenna also relies on her friends to help her through the tough times. Becky (Cheryl Hines) and Dawn (Shelly) wouldn't trade places with her, but they are a constant source of support for her as she makes her way through her unwanted pregnancy.
Ultimately this movie is predictable and the ending wraps up a little too easily...as though the writers didn't think about the ending too much, they just wanted to make it as clean as possible. But the ending, as sugary as it may seem, actually would be the perfect ending of the movie. Anything else wouldn't have made it the fairy tale it was ultimately meant to be.