Forget wearing your influences on your sleeve, Rob McKittrick thanks Kevin Smith for making Clerks in the end credits, enshrining on print for all time that without that film his would not have been possible. Unfortunately, we may have been better off…
Taking place as a day in the life of the group of assorted misfits that make up the staff of ShenaniganZ restaurant (a ‘TGI Friday’ rip-off if ever there was one – the walls, staff ‘antics’, uniforms, drinks bar and all combine to evoke that venue), Waiting… pretends to being about the frustration of the service industry and life without motivation, but succeeds only in being a series of poorly connected sketches and a fistful of restaurant clichés.
Justin Long is Dean, meant to provide the dramatic meat to this tale, who clearly has more ability and intelligence than he needs to work at ShenaniganZ, but lacks the drive to get anywhere else. He is a poorly drawn caricature of Dante from Clerks – we never care about him in the way we empathise with Dante. His friend Monty, Ryan Reynolds, playing the Randall character of this homage, seems to enjoy breaking as many of the rules of this establishment as possible, and living life to the full. Sadly, the relationship between these two young men is never well-realised, and one gets the impression Dean would never tolerate Monty in real-life – their friendship is forced. Waiting… seems to be relying too heavily on the charisma of Reynolds and Long to carry inadequately written characters to another level, and fails because of it.
Anna Faris, Luis Guzmán, Chi McBride and David Koechner complete the list of ‘names’ in this ensemble, but only Guzmán gets enough material to have any impact on proceedings. (That his character is only a one-dimensional, offensive sloth is beside the point.) Koechner makes a reasonable fist of things, but becomes uncomfortable when required to be more than the ‘angry, frustrated manager’.
That the best McKittrick can come up with is a genital-flashing plot device and the usual restaurant clichés – annoying customers, non-English speaking customers, the old ‘spit in the mashed potato’ routine and other such uninspired twists – is disappointing given he has evidently spent years working in the industry, if his tribute to his former colleagues in the closing credits is anything to go by.
Amazingly, in spite of all the problems with Waiting… there were moments I did enjoy, and occasional laughs. Ryan Reynolds, despite being on auto-pilot for most of the film, does have a few moments of mirth, and the showdown scene between him and Anna Faris lifts the otherwise dull midsection. These few highlights, however, can’t make up for the dull narrative and superficial characterisations, and limit Waiting… to being only a poorly disguised Clerks wannabee.Rating: