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Movie Review

Waitress

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sexual content, language and thematic elements

Reviewed by: Misty Wagner
CONTRIBUTOR

Extremely Offensive
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults
Genre:
Comedy, Romance
Length:
1 hr. 47 min.
Year of Release:
2007
USA Release:
May 2, 2007
Copyright, Fox Searchlight Pictures
Copyright, Fox Searchlight Pictures
Copyright, Fox Searchlight Pictures
Copyright, Fox Searchlight Pictures
Copyright, Fox Searchlight Pictures
Copyright, Fox Searchlight Pictures
Copyright, Fox Searchlight Pictures
Copyright, Fox Searchlight Pictures
Copyright, Fox Searchlight Pictures
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Fox Searchlight Pictures

Unplanned pregnancy

Husband wife relationship

What does the Bible say about adultery? Answer

Personal stories about adultery and its consequences…

Is marriage becoming obsolete? Answer
Many people are convinced that traditional marriages don’t work and that this practice should be abandoned. What does the Bible say about marriage?

How can I deal with temptations? Answer

What are the consequences of sexual immorality? Answer

Sex, Love and Relationships
Learn how to make your love the best it can be. Christian answers to questions about sex, marriage, sexual addictions, and more. Valuable resources for Christian couples, singles and pastors.
Featuring: Keri Russell, Nathan Fillion, Cheryl Hines, Adrienne Shelly, Jeremy Sisto, Andy Griffith, Eddie Jemison, Lew Temple, Nathan Dean, Cindy Drummond, Caroline Fogarty, Sarah Hunley, Lauri Johnson, Andy Ostroy, Nora Paradiso, Darby Stanchfield, Heidi Sulzman, Christy Taylor
Director: Adrienne Shelly
Producer: Robert Bauer, Todd King, Brigitte Mueller, Danielle Renfrew, Michael Roiff, Jeff Rose
Distributor: Fox Searchlight Pictures

“If life was only as easy as pie.”

When watching films, I try very hard to see them as art. I try to be open-minded enough to see that, even if the content is offensive, the artists creating it could have had deeper reasons—deeper meaning.

Anyone who has really seen a trailer for “Waitress” knows that the storyline involves adultery. Being a Keri Russel fan (“Mission: Impossible III,” “We Were Soldiers”), I guess I began telling myself that this “sweet little romantic comedy” would have infidelities which were justified, because her character’s husband appeared to be an abusive jerk.

The plot of this film is simple. There is a girl named Jenna (Keri Russel) who is a pie genius. Everyone loves her pies. She is beautiful, talented, and yet no one envies her life. Every night, after working a long, hard day at a local pie diner, Jenna goes home to her controlling and abusive husband Earl (Jeremy Sisto—“Thirteen”). Earl takes her money, belittles and verbally degrades her. He controls her every move and demands that she recite silly little apologies and self condemnations to him. Eventually we discover that he is also physically abusive. There is nothing redemptive about him, and so, as Jenna begins a lustful affair with her OB-GYN Dr. Pomatter (Nathan Fillion—“Serenity,” “Slither”) it’s pretty easy to get caught up in the charm of it all. Jenna finds reason to smile, Jenna is finally cherished for the woman she is.

*Possible Spoilers*

“Waitress” is a truly dangerous film. Granted, it is full of lighthearted moments, inspiration for laughter and the occasional heartwarming sigh. It is my belief that it is because of these things that it is most dangerous. Adultery is nothing to take lightly. It is painful and destructive, with dire consequences. The love affair between Jenna and her doctor does, eventually, become less about lust and grow into something deeper. This is where I may tread into controversial waters… I realize the adultery on her part IS wrong because ssin is sin, but given her circumstances, it is easy to root for the “prince” to ride in and save her. What truly offended me is that Dr. Pomatter is also married. Married to a great woman whom he seems to adore—a woman who is kind and trusts him.

Then there is the fact that Jenna’s co-worker (who is married to an invalid that she constantly badmouths) is sleeping with their boss (who is ALSO married). In fact, the only time that marriage is even spoken of favorably is when Jenna’s other co-worker Dawn marries her boyfriend. The downside of this, however, is that they only just met not long before.

This movie deals with realistic, horrific details that affect millions of homes. The women in this film talk about loneliness and a need for adventure. These women echo the hearts of most (if not every) woman in the audience. They justify their infidelities by using their brokenness as reason enough. The storyline is quite often played off with laughter, but it resonates beneath the surface, and I fear that this will only add one more thing for women to daydream about and wish for, when their lives feel less grand than they had hoped.

One character, Joe (played by Andy Griffith) seemed to voice Jenna’s conscience. He would tell her the affair was wrong, encourage her to start fresh, begin new. His few minutes on screen are the only slightly redemptive moments of this film.

There are other offenses, a few bad words, a few very mild sex scenes, physical abuse and on screen anger. Truthfully every other offense in this film pales in comparison to the bigger issue.

In closing, I felt a particular conversation was worth noting. Somewhere around the middle of the film, Jenna asks her boss Cal if he is happy. His response is “Happy enough.” He goes on to elaborate about how he doesn’t need much, or have much, so when things come along he doesn’t take them for granted. His answer was used to justify his affair with his employee. Jenna used his response to confirm how right it was for her to continue her affair. Everyone was so concerned about their happiness, in the moment. No one stopped to think about later on.

As for the quality of the film artistically, it was well acted and well made, until the end. It literally was as though a group of people looked at the mess they had tangled together, collaborated to tie the end up with a fairy-tale-like ribbon and call it a brightly-colored happily-ever-after. No consequences, no reality. A pretty bow on the end of a mangled, human mess. Life isn’t like that, and if this were simply the romantic comedy it advertises—I guess that wouldn’t be so vital. It isn’t though; it toys with the heart strings of aching women… Even for the strong of spirit, and not easily offended, I don’t recommend this film.

Violence: Mild / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: Moderate

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer Comments
Comments below:
Positive
Positive—My wife and I are very conservative but enjoyed the film very much. I agree with the review that there are some offensive messages but we also saw two redeeming factors. The first one was that no woman should stay in an abusive relationship. Though Jenna is not justified in having an affair, she is justified in her desire to leave him and to get out of this mess at all costs. Andy Griffith gives a great performance and serves as the conservative view point in this film. His advise and wisdom that he shared with Jenna was right on target without beating her over the head with scripture verses. I believe viewers will appreciate this film even more when they realize that the creator, director and writer of this film was a woman and was pregnant at the time she wrote this screenplay. She was also murdered in her apartment (Nov. 2006) before the release of this film.

By the way, it is her little girl that appears in the end of the movie. Go see it… You’ll love it. It’s much better written and acted than many of the big Hollywood block buster movies that are out there.
My Ratings: Average / 5
—M Jordan, age 59
Positive—I took my daughters to see this movie on a sneak preview. The theater was packed, not one empty seat and we were looking forward to it, we are fans of Keri Russell. The movie was very good and entertaining. We were not disappointed at all. Jenna, played by Keri Russell, had dreams of a better life, having greater expectations above what she was living. Her husband seemed to love her, but he was self-centered and completely controlling when it came to Jenna. Their relationship was about him, his wants and needs and he was selfish. She had to conform to his ideas of what she was suppose to be in his mind or she would suffer either verbal or physical abuse. She is most unhappy in her marriage. She works at a diner, where she has conversations with Andy Griffith, who eats at the diner a lot. He turns out to become her friend and ends up leaving her money after his death.

She becomes pregnant and hides it from her husband as long as possible and starts going to the Dr., whom she ends up having an affair with. She hates being pregnant during the whole movie and dreads her life except when she is seeing the “Dr.”. She bakes pies and makes up all kinds of different kinds of pies for the situations she is going through in her life, it’s cute. When she goes into labor, her Dr.'s wife comes into the room, as she is in the medical field too and Jenna (Keri Russell) then decides completely that what she has been doing with her Dr. is wrong, sees how much his wife is in love with him and trusts him. Morally, the affair is so very wrong. You can see why she would be attracted to him, as he is very sweet and kind to her, but we all know its “wrong” and she did, too.

There is a sweet part at the end of the movie when she gives birth to her little baby, she immediately falls in love with her and it is a good ending. She completely takes a 180 degree change in her attitude and her little girl becomes her life. It is an entertaining film and story. We enjoyed it very much.
My Ratings: Better than Average / 4½
—Donna M, age 51
Positive—I almost did not see this movie based on the this Web sites’s review, but decided to go anyway. Then I wondered if the reviewer for Christian Spotlight actually saw the same movie, or at least, understood it. The Bible has many sordid stories, such as David and Bathsheba’s adulterous affair. However, God shares these “offensive” things with us to prove a point. Sin only destroys. While it is tempting because it is fun for the moment, it only ends in broken trust, heart-ache and pain. The main character of Waitress is a genuine, caring person who is conflicted throughout the movie by both her current marital situation and her affair, both of which she knows are wrong. While the affair is fun and provides her a type of happiness in her current state, she is conflicted by its immorality. Her journey takes her past the immorality of the affair to a conversion of mind and heart where she finds delight and love not in what is immoral, but in what is pure.

***Do Not Read the Following If you want to avoid knowing much about the movie.**** Toward the end of the movie, the protagonist goes through childbirth. Much time is spent on the pain of birth and bringing forth new life. This direction brought out the beauty not only of the struggle to bring a child into the world, but the struggle to bring forth new life out of a human being. She needed a new beginning and she found it apart from her abusive, controlling husband and apart from her affair. Neither was the answer. She broke off both relationships to treasure her new life, to get a fresh start apart from the destructive relationships in which she was involved. The movie ends with her acts of repentance and the growth and blessing that follow as a result. While the content can certainly be deemed for mature audiences, not children, the material could only be termed offensive if it was promoting sin or an affair as a good thing. It did nothing of the kind. In fact, throughout the movie, it shows that she knew she was involved in something immoral and in the end, what was promoted was completely turning from these things, to build the trust of real, loving relationships. This movie in both a delightful and yet very poignant way depicts the moral challenges of life with all our human weaknesses and how the newness of life is found where there is a relationship of real love and trust.
My Ratings: Average / 4½
—David, age 38
Positive—I strongly disagree with this review, for these reasons. Firstly, this review claims this movie is dangerous because it “glorifies” adultery. Here is some news, just because a subject is portrayed, doesn’t mean it’s glorified. *possible spoilers* In fact, the overall message of the film is that Jenna’s actions are wrong, and therefore she stops doing them. Jenna cheating on her husband is always seen as a negative thing, and characters (even Jenna herself) say so many times. Since none of us are perfect, of course, movies are going to revolve around sin, as our lives do. This movie is a wonderful bright spot in the world of modern movies. The cast is charming and funny and the overall feel is very down-to-earth and comfortable.

As stated, there is not really very much language here, and very mild sexual content. The only concern would be for children, and that is a legitimate concern, as this is not a children’s movie by any means. However, just because it isn’t suitable for children doesn’t make it an offensive movie, nor does it mean mature teens/adults can’t enjoy it.
My Ratings: Better than Average / 4½
—Jeremy C, age 18
Positive—It’s easy when watching this film to get hung up on the adulterous situations without seeing all the other little life lessons this film has to offer. The good news is that many of the lessons revolve around adultery and how WRONG it is. The film isn’t glorifying adultery—in the end, it shows you the side of things nobody thinks about—the fact that someone is always going to be hurt in adultery. In the end, the adulteress learns her lesson and feels horrible for it and the adulterer is left looking like a jerk. However, in order to show atonement for the sin, there first must be a sin to show atonement for—and this film does it tastefully. There are no explicit sex scenes that make everyone feel awkward.

The main theme of the film is a young woman named Jenna who works at a cafe/pie shop and goes home every day to an abusive husband. She’s saving her money for the day she can leave him and terrified he will discover her plans. When she finds out she is pregnant, it is a huge blow to her plans and she feels drained, empty, and devoid of life. She begins to find encouragement in writing letters to her unborn child and begins to draw lessons about life from everyone in her environment that she passes on to her baby through her touching letters. She isn’t really happy to be pregnant which makes the movie all the more real. For her, the baby is a prison sentence enclosing her in her abusive relationship forever. Despite all the dark themes, you will walk away from this movie feeling positive. The ending ties it all together.

This movie had me in tears several times. Never have I seen an abusive husband portrayed so accurately on screen. It shows you how an abuser can be evil one minute and the next, seem helpless and even loveable, making it impossible to leave them. There is also the moment where Keri Russell's character first sees the face of her child and it’s such a beautiful moment in film. Everything in this film is captured absolutely brilliantly and realistically. As a person of faith, there is a scene where Jenna defends her child’s right to life. How often do you see such pro-life values displayed on screen these days? Not often. “Cider House Rules” anyone?

In the end, you learn more than just the perils of adultery. You learn that you can live your own life to the best of your own ability, but you can’t control the lives of your friends or “fix” the world around you. You learn that first impressions aren’t always correct. You learn how far kindness can go towards people everyone else wants to avoid. You learn that the love you have for your children can make you shape up and make the right choices. You learn that even though you make mistakes, you can still move on and be happy. You learn that abusers aren’t completely evil and can sometimes be deceptively pitiful. There are a myriad of lessons and morals portrayed in a world that isn’t perfect, just like reality, and shows someone who stumbles and falls but ultimately picks herself back up and sets forth on the correct path in life.

The final lesson the movie may offer is that sometimes greatness is gone too soon. Sadly, is the first and last debut feature film written/directed/and acted in by Adrienne Shelly. Shelly was killed in 2006 after an argument with an illegal immigrant neighbor below her who was making too much noise during construction on his apartment. Shelly plays one of Keri Russell's co-waitresses. She left behind a two year-old daughter and I can imagine this film is a great legacy to pass on to her child. This isn’t a film that lays everything out for you; it’s a film that shows you poor choices and the characters' reactions. It’s a thinking person’s film about life choices and doing what is right. In the end, morality comes full circle and Jenna becomes the woman we wanted to see her become from the beginning.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Kelly, age 30
Positive—Speaking as a veteran volunteer youth minister, this is one film that I would love to show to my students and have some serious discussion about it. …I, myself, found the movie FULL of redemption: ***spoiler alert, skip the next paragraph***
Jenna falls in love with her baby, divorces Earl, breaks off her affair and leads a normal life. Joe, who no one seems to like, offers wise advice, is Jenna’s conscience, and calls her “his only friend,” not to mention sharing his wealth with her.
***END SPOILER***

Movies can’t all be about a fairy tale life, as few lives in our dark world are fairy tale material. This movie is about reality—it could happen, and probably does happen in some shape or form everyday. Sure, adultery was discussed and occurred, but it’s always mentioned as being a bad thing, and ultimately stops. I highly recommend this movie for mature teens and up.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Carl Fuglein, age 60
Neutral
Neutral—I am going to give this movie a neutral reaction, rather than outright negative, although there is a lot wrong with the subject matter. It is so terribly amoral. Amoral in that there seems to be no concept of morality until the main character, Jenna, played beautifully by Kerri Russell, has the backbone and insight to end all relations with that immoral and unethical doctor of her’s who thinks nothing of cheating on his loving wife. The scenes in which Jenna throws herself at the good doctor are so ridiculous and uninspired they are laughable and pitiful. I did not see any appeal in the actor who played the role of the doctor, so Jenna’s lunging at him for lustful interaction was very contrived. The one good thing about this movie was Russell’s performance and also the character of Jenna, who finds her way out of a terribly oppressive life with the so-called husband, who makes a mockery of the title by the way he treats her. In the end, she does the right thing.
My Ratings: Very Offensive / 4
Halyna Barannik, age 61
Negative
Negative—My husband and I rented this movie thinking it would be a sweet, clean, romance movie. We both felt it was trashy and made it seem like adultery was an alternative and the norm. At least the main charter Jenna looks a little better, since she is in an abusive marriage looking for a way to get out, and in the end leaves the MARRIED doctor she is cheating with. She also doesn’t abort her baby… The doctor is made out to be this really nice guy that is willing to leave his perfectly good wife for Jenna. To me, he took advantage of a vulnerable person, and she went for it. There is swearing, another couple that commit adultery, and some weird partial nudity—when Jenna FIRST goes to the doctor’s office, she looks at two women that are pregnant and then sees them as being nude. A magazine covers most of their breasts, and their legs are folded to hide their bottom half. I forget what the point of this was, if there was any. The movie in itself is just weird and has many lulls and nonsense. There are far better things to spend your money on then this! I see a lot of movies, and this is garbage. Boring, immoral, pointless. Don’t waste your time.
My Ratings: Very Offensive / 2
—Christina, age 24
Negative—The element of the sanctity of life was exciting to see. I love that she acknowledged her unborn baby’s right to exist/thrive. As for negatives, I have to repeat what everyone else has said about the affairs. I was VERY open to this movie because I saw tons of conflicting views: nothing offensive in terms of sexual content to highly offensive, so I wanted to watch it for myself. However, I feel like the scenes of “kissing” were pretty, shall we say, explicit. Examples being: Kerri Russell’s character in bed with her husband, him on top asking her to say something sexy, she asks what to say, and then we hear him give off a loud moan… a few scenes of people in their affair kissing with legs wrapped around each other, very sensual, but common in movies nowadays. Dialogue did contain sexual language. Overall, I think that as Christians it’s important to keep in mind that Paul tells us “but among you there MUST NOT BE even a HINT of sexual immorality….”
My Ratings: Offensive / 4½
—Angelica, age 22
Negative—After watching this movie, I wondered what else I could have done with the movie and time I just wasted…
My Ratings: Extremely Offensive / 1
—B J K, age 32
Negative—My husband and I rented this thinking it might be cute. There is nothing cute about adultery. And this movie was loaded with it. We are also sick and tired of seeing men portrayed as idiots, abusers, cheats and in the end not necessary. This movie was not cute at all.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Leslie, age 49
Negative—After reading the summary of the movie on the back of the DVD, and a short review, and upon seeing that Andy Griffith was one of the actors, I just knew this had to be a sweet romantic story. I watched it with my son and daughter-in-law, and all of us were totally disgusted with it.

It is insidious in that the husband is so horrible, that you find yourself wanting the main character to get away from him in any way she can. It plays on your emotions into believing what is wrong is right, and what is right is wrong. For example, the “sweet” scene of her teaching him to bake a pie is portrayed as so sweet and “loving” that I had to remind myself of what I was seeing. As hateful as the husband was, I was actually wanting for him to come and catch them in their infidelity.

Even “Joe,” Andy Griffith’s character, talked about a girl he had gotten pregnant in the 40s, and had numerous comments that seemed to typecast him as the stereotypical “dirty old man.”

Many if not most of the diner scenes were reminiscent of the 80s sitcom, Alice. As I read in one review, I, too, kept waiting for one of the characters to say, 'Kiss my grits!'

The scenes where the main character and the doctor attack each other in their lust are totally ludicrous. As for any woman to even consider seeing her OB/GYN in a romantic light, my daughter-in-law and I had the exact same reaction: “Ewwwwwwwww!”

Southern stereotypes notwithstanding, there are numerous lapses in believability and in the story line of the movie, and the ending is completely unrealistic. I’m so sorry we wasted our money on this trash.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 1
—Nancy H., age 54