One of the many reasons I hate eating in restaurants is a sense of fastidious distaste at the thought of other people handling my food. After seeing ‘Waiting’ I can comfortably say I will never eat out again, not unless I have a very good reason for doing so.
In the generic chain restaurant ‘Shenaniganz’, a group of twentysomething slackers deal with irritating customers, an insufferably keen manager, and the boredom and frustration of a minimum wage job. Distraction comes only in the form of a bizarre game where the staff members try to trick each other into catching a glimpse of their genitals, and in the ritual tainting of insufferable customers’ food.
Monty (Ryan Reynolds) is content to plough his meagre earnings into his partying lifestyle, while Dean (Justin Long) is increasingly worried about his life falling into a rut, especially when he hears of an old high school friend who has just landed a high-paying executive job. When Dean is offered the assistant manager’s position at Shenaniganz, he realises that he is at a crossroads moment, where he needs to make a decision on where his life is going. Set over the course of one shift, the waiters and chefs try to get through the day with the promise of a party at Monty’s house that evening, while Dean struggles with the decision about the assistant manager’s job.
‘Waiting’ is puerile, childish, disgusting, and very funny in a way most American ‘gross out’ films have failed to be recently. Mainly this is due to writer/director Rob McKittrick’s focus on his characters as people, rather than just as vehicles for the next revolting joke. Ryan Reynolds has virtually cornered the market in sleazy creeps, and he plays Monty to perfection here, while Justin Long convinces as a character that knows he could be doing so much more with his life, but who just doesn’t know how to go about making the necessary changes. It’s the underlying acknowledgement of the frustrations people in their twenties can feel, and the fear that their peers are doing so much better than them, that perhaps makes this film slightly more significant. For all the knob gags and scenes of vile, stomach churning food adulteration, ‘Waiting’ still has wider concerns.
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