Waitress is a film that is almost impossible not to love. It is such an obvious labor of love for all involved and brings out some of the best work of many of those involved. And unlike many "labor of love" films, this one is actually both highly entertaining and easily accessible. From start to finish, it is a heart moving and amusing film with many quirks and magnificent originality. While it is a romantic comedy, it is not a "Hollywood" romantic comedy in that the film rarely -- if ever -- goes where you expect it to go.
The story follows a young waitress (played by Keri Russell) who is married to a full-time loser (Jeremy Sisto) with a mean spirit. She finds out she is pregnant which ultimately puts her on a collision course with the new doctor in town (Nathan Fillion) whom she falls into a passionate love affair with. The film follows this waitress as she tries to sort out her own problematic relationship with her husband, understand what her heart is telling her about her affair, all the while dealing with her everyday life with her fellow waitress friends (Adrienne Shelly and Cheryl Hines) and a grumpy old customer (Andy Griffith) who happens to own the restaurant where she works.
Every character in this film is memorable for one reason or another, including several minor character such as the short-order cook of the restaurant, and even a mother and her young, obnoxious son who frequent the restaurant and strike fear into the pregnant protagonist. Andy Griffith in particular grabs the audience's attention and makes his role a true standout.
For the first 30 minutes or so of the film I couldn't stop laughing it was so delightful, then it took a turn and started to get a little dark. Later, I realized that the transitions from comedy to serious and back again were very smooth. I liked the quirky, almost fantasy-like feel to parts of the film.
Adrienne Shelly who acted in, wrote and directed the film (as well as co-set designed, co- costume designed and even provided one of the songs for the film) has left one perfect little film here. It is such a tragedy that she did not live to see this film's release as it certainly would have given her the success she so richly deserved.