If you’re hungry for a double helping of vulgarity with a side order of raunchiness, “Waiting” is certainly the dish for you. Though it’s about people who cook and serve the food at a typical franchise restaurant-cum-bar, Rob McKittrick’s movie is ostentatiously and unremittingly tasteless. Unfortunately, in this case at least, that does not equate with hilarious. Though in a year of R-rated comedies this one goes further than any other, it’s a smorgasbord of smut, puerility and gross-out business more likely to make you gag than leave you satisfied.
The site of the purportedly wacky goings-on is a place called Shenanigans, which looks suspiciously like a Bennigan’s, and the chief purveyor of what passes for humor is a smug Lothario named Monty (Ryan Reynolds), who’s assigned by clueless manager Dan (David Koechner) to show trainee Mitch (John Francis Daley) the ropes. What Monty provides isn’t so much information on how to do a job but a flamboyant introduction to the workers’ sexual peccadillos and an explanation of the humiliating game the guys play to stave off boredom–a pastime they call “Showing the Dick.” (I’ll leave the rules to the imagination, if you don’t mind.) The staff includes a variety of ultimately very uninteresting and unlikable people: Calvin (Patrick Benedict), a doofus obsessing over a waitress whose shift he’s taken; bitter, foul-mouthed Naomi (Alanna Ubach); Natasha (Vanessa Lengies), the still-underage hostess lusted after by Monty and every other male in the joint; Serena (Anna Faris), with whom Monty shared a brief affair, which they look back on very differently; Amy (Kaitlin Doubleday), Serena’s pleasant colleague; lesbian bartender Tyla (Emmanuelle Chriqui); lustful, scruffy cook Raddimus (Luis Guzman); philosophical dishwasher Bishop (Chi McBride), who’s quick with advice for everybody; goofball busboys T-Dog and Nick (Max Kasch and Andy Milonakis) who feign gangsta attitude; and Dean (Justin Long), Monty’s young roomie, who’s sweet on Amy. What little “plot” there is has to do with whether or not Dean will accept Dan’s offer of the job of assistant manager at the joint–something that would transform a supposedly temporary gig into a soul-destroying permanent job, although there is also the question of whether Monty will bed Natasha at the staff party scheduled after the shift ends.
We’re supposed to find all the waspish interactions among staff and customers funny, but mostly they’re just repulsive, with Guzman’s love-making breaks, the various episodes of the “dick” game and the waiters’ treatment of unpleasant customers (dropping their food on the floor and spitting on it, just for starters) probably coming across as the most disgusting elements. But Monty’s salacious narration isn’t much better, provoking virtually no laughs despite the fact that Mitch’s stupefied reactions are obviously designed to telegraph to us the ways in which we’re supposed to respond. What little amusement there is–a minuscule amount, to be sure–comes, in fact from Daley’s goofiness and Long’s hangdog charm. Otherwise the cast delivers next to nothing, with Reynold’s smarmy “Van Wilder” shtick becoming almost unendurable even though the running-time is a paltry 93 minutes. You can’t wait for the movie to end, and he’s a major reason why.
“Waiting” is a threadbare production, obviously made on a shoestring. The settings are nondescript, and the washed-out cinematography by Matthew Irving exaggerates their shabbiness. McKittrick’s direction combines aimlessness and overemphasis. A particularly odd aspect of the picture is the fact that so much of it lacks any background music; this is exactly the sort of thing you’d expect to feature wall-to-wall pop tunes on the soundtrack. But this movie is nothing to sing about, even at one remove. No fewer than fifteen producers, co-producers and executive producers are listed in the credits and willing to shoulder the blame for this indigestible concoction; has anyone ever heard of too many cooks? Whatever the case, cancel your reservation.