The Waiting Game

The Waiting Game (1999)
Vanguard Films
Cast: Will Arnette, Terumi Matthews, Daniel Riordan
Extras: Featurette, Deleted Scene, Theatrical Trailer

Here’s yet another independent film that explores the lives of a group of quirky slackers in New York City. But, strangely enough, this movie is pretty good. ’The Waiting Game’ focuses on a group of struggling actors who work as waiters. There’s Lenny (Will Arnette), the nice-guy bartender whose failure as an actor is hurting his relationship with his girlfriend. And Dan (Danile Riordan), the intense waiter, whose failure as an actor is making him insane. And also, Andi (Terumi Matthews), the smart waitress, whose failure as an actor has led to jobs trying to seduce men to test their fidelity. We watch these characters and the rest of the crew at the restaurant interact — forming relationships and grudges.

As with Kevin Smith’s ’Clerks’ and ’Mallrats’, this ensemble comedy is meant to give us a thumbnail sketch of a certain group of people. ’The Waiting Game’ definitely has its moments. Dan’s one-man play is hysterical and Derek (Eddie Malavarca) the busboy’s attempts to fill up the ketchup bottles is a good running joke. But, at the core of the film is the unfulfilled sexual tension between Lenny and Andi. These intriuging characters and funny moments save the film, as it fails on its mission to introduce us to the world of waiters or struggling actors. This part of the film relies on stale clichés, but the irreverence of the cast keeps the film chugging along.

The Vanguard Cinema DVD of ’The Waiting Game’ brings us the film in full-frame format. The image is very sharp and clear, showing only a minimal amount of grain. Director Ken Liotti has given the film a very natural look, so the subdued lighting and neutral color palette come across well in this digital transfer.

The audio on the DVD is a Dolby Digital mono, which offers a clear, although somewhat muffled at times, soundtrack. The dialogue is always understandable, but the music and sound effects sound very canned at times. The DVD features the original theatrical trailer for the film, which is letterboxed at 1.85:1. There is also an alternate take of one of the scenes from the film, which is also letterboxed at 1.85:1. Seeing the trailer and this scene in their widescreen format can’t help but make one wonder about the original shooting aspect ratio of the film and the choice to present the movie full-frame on the DVD.

On an even more bizarre side note, the trailer is also presented at the beginning of the film as Chapter 1. So, the trailer is on the DVD twice! The DVD also contains a four and a half minute ’making of’ segment, which features a great deal of footage from the set of the film and many candid scenes with the cast. Overall, ’The Waiting Game’ is a refreshing comedy, and the DVD represents Vanguard’s continued efforts to bring quality products to its viewers.