Those who have worked in food service know the challenges and difficulties the trade involves. They also know, as patrons, how to conduct themselves at a restaurant. More likely than not, they have observed a few incidences in which an employee at a restaurant -- quite possibly themselves -- has sought revenge on an especially difficult customer by tampering with the food in nasty, nauseating, stomach-churning ways, and they don't want something similar to happen to them.
I've never worked in food service myself. After watching Waiting, I thank my lucky stars for that. It does not appear to be an overly gratifying profession. Strenuous hours. Difficult bosses. Whining customers. Demanding environment. I have, however, been a difficult customer in the past. Waiting has woken me up to the reality of my nature, and the possible consequences I could receive. It goes without saying that my days as an obstinate customer are over.
Waiting looks at one day in the life of the employees at ShenaniganZ, a generic chain restaurant. Justin Long (Jeepers Creepers) plays Dean, a high school overachiever who, since graduating four years ago, has achieved the prestigious position of server at the generic chain restaurant. When he hears that his classmate just graduated from a four-year college and nabbed a high-paying position as an engineer, Dean starts to wonder what he wants to do with his life. But what are his dreams? Does he even have any?
Ryan Reynolds plays Monty, who's on the same road to nowhere, but he doesn't care because he gets to sleep with a lot of high school chicks. Today, he's training a new employee named Mitch (Freaks and Geeks' John Frances Daley). Mitch learns all about the mechanics of the job. He also learns about "a game" the staff has designed that involves bare male genitals. Comedian Dane Cook and MTV pop icon Andy Milonakis play supporting characters.
The actors are astonishing considering what they have to work with. Alanna Ubach (Meet the Fockers) is hilarious as a bitchy, foul-mouthed waitress. David Koechner (Reno 911) is appropriately obnoxious as ShenaniganZ's manager. Anna Faris has some strong scenes, too. When she confronts Monty about his performance in the sack, she really takes charge of the scene, which is something we've never really seen Faris do before. Long brings boyish charm to Dean, a character that is not a stretch for him, but does bring the film some normalcy. As for Ryan Reynolds, he's the same character in every comedy, and he's not funny here, either.
And despite some of its promising performances, the film falls flat. Borrowing elements from Clerks and Dazed and Confused, newcomer writer/director Rob McKittrick fails to bring anything new or notable to the table. Instead of an ode to those lost, directionless days of youth, we get a bunch of lame penis jokes and scenes of gross-out humor. While watching Waiting, you get the feeling you're viewing a product that has been spit on, stepped on, dragged across the floor, dipped in the toilet, and laced with public hair... and then served hot, for $10.50 a ticket. I don't care what the cooks do to it this time, I'm sending this dish back.
It's murder getting the ketchup started.