It’s a term that’s bandied about with great admiration in the film world to describe movies that were made for practically nothing but nevertheless achieved a cult following (“Napoleon Dynamite”) or received awards (“El Mariachi”) or acclaim (“Clerks”) or all of the above (“sex, lies and videotape”).
“Waiting ...,” about the motley crew of waiters, waitresses, cooks and busboys at a generic chain restaurant, is also low-budget, but not in a way that’s charming or quirky or reflects any sort of vision or resourcefulness. It’s just awful.
The first movie from writer-director Rob McKittrick is an erratically paced, slapped-together string of sight gags and repetitive humor, most of which involves the exposure of genitalia, followed by frat-boy-style homophobia. It’s not even offensive; it’s lazy and adolescent.
The king of the idiots is Monty, played by Ryan Reynolds with a smooth, deadpan delivery that has become his trademark over the past few years. It’s the same shtick he did in “National Lampoon’s Van Wilder,” it’s the same shtick Val Kilmer did in “Real Genius” and Chevy Chase did in “Caddyshack.” He’s funny, he’s cynical, he looks like the boy next door but he’s really a subversive perv.
Reynolds’ presence is about the only thing that makes “Waiting ...” tolerable, so it’s a good thing he’s in practically every scene. As a longtime waiter at ShenaniganZ — a thinly veiled takeoff on Bennigan’s, down to the antique schlockery on the walls and the fake Tiffany lamps dangling above the tables — Monty is responsible for training new employees.
On this particular shift, the victim is Mitch (John Francis Daley), who doesn’t get to say much because Monty talks incessantly. Throughout the day, Monty introduces Mitch to, among others: Dean (Justin Long), a waiter who’s having a career crisis after four years on the job; Monty’s former bed buddy, the sassy Serena (Anna Faris in heavy blue eye liner that makes her look like Britney Spears); Tyla (Emmanuelle Chriqui), the hot lesbian bartender; Naomi (Alanna Ubach), who’s so sick of waiting tables at ShenaniganZ that she constantly screams expletives at her co-workers; and Raddimus (Luis Guzman), the head cook, who introduced everyone else to “The Game.”
That would be the genital-exposing game. Which is pretty gross in its own right — Raddimus explains the rules and variations using a piece of raw chicken — but not as gross as what the kitchen staff does to surly customers.
“Waiting ...” shows fleeting flashes of observant humor; it’s at its best when, like “Office Space,” it focuses on the absurdities of workplace politics. David Koechner (who’s been everywhere lately between this, “The Dukes of Hazzard” and “Daltry Calhoun”) is accurately annoying as the power-hungry, nerdy restaurant manager.
If you’ve ever worked in a restaurant (as McKittrick has), you may recognize these people and their adventures, ones that are usually kept as kitchen confidential. But you can still expect a 30-to-40-minute wait for a joke or an image that’s meaty enough for you to sink your teeth into.