Near the beginning of the 2005 indie comedy Waiting…, a veteran staff member asks the newest employee how he feels about male genitalia. Apparently, in order to work at fictional restaurant Shenaniganz (a cross between TGI Friday’s and Bennigan’s), you have to be willing to play the Penis-Showing Game, the object of which is for male employees to get their co-workers to look at their penises and/or testicles. If that happens, the flasher can kick the flashee in the butt several times, and make derogatory homosexual remarks as well.
Hearing about the Penis-Showing Game and the important part it played in the lives of the waitstaff at Shananiganz was a clear indication that I would be in for nothing more than a sophomoric slacker comedy. Instead of turning the film off there and then, I decided to give it a chance — and ended up wasting the next 94 minutes of my life.
Plot summary (with possible spoilers): Waiting… takes the audience through one day in the life of mostly 20-somethings working at dead-end jobs at the Shenaniganz restaurant. The leader of the pack is Monty (played by Ryan Reynolds), a waiter who seems to have no ambitions beyond sleeping with underage girls, including the restaurant’s greeter/seater Natasha (Vanessa Lengies).
Monty is also one of the biggest proponents of the Penis-Showing Game, and he makes it a point to take new employee Mitch (John Francis Daley) to see Raddimus (Luis Guzman), the head cook, for an in-depth explanation of the rules and strategy of the game. All of this goes on while Monty is supposedly leading Mitch through an orientation session.
Meanwhile, we get to meet other characters, such as the clueless manager Dan (David Koechner) who glories in all of his supposed power over the employees; Bishop (Chi McBride), a dishwasher who dispenses daily doses of philosophy and advice to his co-workers; Naomi (Alanna Ubach), who puts on a smile for customers but curses freely about the job as soon as she makes it into the kitchen; Calvin (Rob Benedict), a waiter who has a problem using public restrooms; and Serena (Anna Faris), Ryan’s ex-girlfriend, who serves no real purpose in the film.
Another main character is Dean (Justin Long), the only one of the bunch who gives any thought to the future at all. When his mother tells him that Chet (Travis Resor), a kid from his high school, recently graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, Dean decides that he has to start doing something with his life. After all, Dean and Chet had all the same classes in high school, so why shouldn’t Dean enjoy the same success?
The film goes on in this manner for most of the running time, and then culminates with a staff party after work at which many of these issues get resolved.
My Reaction: I freely admit that I don’t fit the demographic that the filmmakers had in mind as the intended audience. I’ve never worked in a restaurant, am not moping around because of a dead-end job, and am well past the party-every-night stage. As such, I guess it’s no surprise that I didn’t like this Waiting… at all.
There were a few moments that were chuckle-worthy, but on the whole, I found most of the characters to be gross and obnoxious. Was it really necessary to make the Penis-Showing Game such a central part of the plot? Would a game like that actually get very far in today’s workplace? Did we really have to see the special treatment given to the woman who sent her plate back to the kitchen with complaints?
The only storyline that was somewhat interesting was Dean’s, as he struggled to find direction and motivation in his life. I think the situation he was in, comparing himself to a former classmate that he was every bit as smart as, is something that most people can identify with. Certainly more so than bedding underage girls or having chronic bladder problems because you think the guy in the next urinal is checking out your package.
Overall, Waiting… has very little to offer to a general audience. Maybe slacker/stoner college students or waiters would find this drivel funny, but anyone past the age of 30 ought to forget about this film. I give it 2 stars out of 5.