From first-time writer/director Rob McKittrick comes Waiting, a farce about a group of restaurant employees (played by Justin Long, Dane Cook and Ryan Reynolds) who face an unending workday full of frustrating customers, personal disappointments and post-high school boredom.
Waiting also happens to be the perfect title for a movie that leaves audiences waiting for such a ridiculous mess to become something even mediocre.
The story follows Dean (Long) and Monty (Reynolds) who have been working at Shenanigan's restaurant since their high school graduation. Shenanigan's is an Americana chain that senile old men and trailer trash alike are attracted; it is not only home to Dean and Monty, but also to a slew of crazy cooks, ghetto busboys and fed-up waitresses.
During a seemingly endless shift marked by slow business and annoying requests from strange customers, Dean realizes that while he is only a poorly tipped waiter who parties nightly amongst the other servers and cooks, one of his fellow high school graduates has just received his bachelor's degree and is on his way to a successful career in electrical engineering.
Monty, on the other hand, is busy chasing teenage girls and training the newly-hired Mitch (John Francis Daley). Caught in post-high school purgatory, Monty's knack for hosting nightly keggers reveals no sign of moving forward with his life.
Over the course of the shift, through restaurant encounters with the dissatisfied and the condescending, Dean realizes he must escape his unfulfilling existence before it is too late while Monty realizes ... nothing.
The opening of the film seems to promise Office Space-type sarcasm, conjuring "oh, how work sucks" and "that happens to me every Monday" thoughts into its viewers' minds. Yet, the downfall of the film is not so much the content, but the manner in which it is dealt with.
Unnecessary crudeness makes this comedy fall extremely flat. With pubic hair gags reminiscent of She's All That and a slew of other scatological humor jokes, the hilarity surrounding the frustrations of the workplace is forced straight down the toilet.
Half the picture is spent with the ensemble cast playing "the game" where they flash each other their testicles in various fashions. Additional points are earned for creative positioning of their genitalia.
Moreover, each character who makes up this ragtag team of Shenanigan's associates is so recognizably stereotypical that the movie feels more like a season of "The Real World" than an actual group of friends.
The caricatures include Dean, the quiet one; his sweet homely girlfriend, Amy (Kaitlin Doubleday); her slutty sidekick, Serena (Anna Faris); the nervous and awkward Floyd (Cook); the pervert, Monty (a role plucked out of Van Wilder); with support from the likes of a fed-up bitch (Alanna Ubach) and a sex-crazed cook played by Luis Guzman (Out of Sight).
Worst of all, however, is the misuse of the restaurant as the arena for comedic dominance. Getting revenge on nasty customers by throwing food on the floor is old. Everybody has thought of it. Bad tipping? Been there, done that. The unoriginality of each setting-based attempt at a joke is depressing and even the cameo of diminutive MTV comedy star Andy Milonakis could not save the movie.
All in all, the few one-liners that do evoke laughter, scattered yet undeniably funny, cannot carry the movie from mediocre to memorable for more than 20 seconds.
Although it is more than guaranteed that Waiting will be a hit amongst fans of Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle and the previously mentioned Van Wilder, the movie whet my taste buds about as much as a meal at Shenanigan's would.
The one redeeming factor of seeing this film is the presence of an all grown-up Daley, whom many remember from the actually funny comedy series "Freaks and Geeks." What happened, John? Answer me, please, I'm waiting.