Here's a Tip: You'll Lose Your Appetite

Friday, October 7, 2005

"Waiting," a teen gross-out comedy starring Ryan Reynolds, opens with a scene in which mass quantities of beer and pot are being imbibed, a scene that functions less as an introduction than as a cue to the best state of mind to be in when you see it. This puerile, pointless piece of work -- in which a group of young waiters and waitresses engages in a collective obsession with genitalia, bodily excretions, sexual put-downs and free-floating misanthropy -- is about as appealing as week-old bong water and just about as stale. Recycling humor from "American Pie" and the Farrelly brothers' oeuvre to derivative excess, "Waiting" is a proud member of the rank and vile, a sex comedy for people who found "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" too philosophically arcane to comprehend.

The movie follows a day in the life of Shenanigan's, a strip-mall family franchise that could just as easily be called Bennigan's Applebee's Ruby Tuesday. A waiter named Monty (Reynolds, epitomizing unctuous insincerity) trains a newcomer named Mitch (John Francis Daley) and along the way introduces the newbie and viewers to the dirty secrets of restaurant culture. Set pieces include a nauseating nightmare scenario of what vindictive waiters do with food that is sent back and a running gag in which the male employees trick one another into looking at their nether regions. (If you think that's funny, just wait till you see what the girls have in store.) To call "Waiting" lowbrow is to libel the only body part it doesn't portray with adolescent vulgarity. It's lewd, crude and socially irredeemable.

-- Ann Hornaday

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