Waiting… (2005)
Lions Gate Home Entertainment
Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Anna Faris, Justin Long
Extras: Commentary Tracks, Documentary, Premiere, Deleted Scenes, Outtakes, Theatrical Trailer

"Waiting…" is a feature film written and directed by Rob McKittrick, who reportedly came up with all of the ideas as he waited tables, and was created with a very small budget. The plotless film simply follows a large cast of young restaurant employees over a twenty four hour period at a place called, appropriately enough 'Shenaniganz'.

The cast includes Ryan Reynolds as Monty, a cocky yet charismatic young waiter whose sole purpose in life seems to be seducing young women and coming up with ridiculous one liners to cheer up his best friend, Dean (Justin Long) who is tormented by the fact that his life is going nowhere fast. Basically, Dean is offered a promotion, and this actually sends him into a spiral of self reflection, he is a young man in his twenties who has no clue what direction his life should go in, but he feels he is on the wrong track. The food industry can really trap you, if you let it, and for many bartenders and wait staff the money can be quite good, but the humiliation that lies just underneath these tasks can be quite daunting.

This is the most important aspect of the story, but we have a rather large cast of colorful characters who are all having their own breakdowns in one way or another. They include a young seductress/waitress named Serena (Anna Farris), a cheesy but dead on performance of a restaurant manager Dan (David Koechner), who gives out pathetic motivation speeches. Luis Guzman plays the chef/head prankster Raddimus, whose disgusting penis jokes have lifted the morale of this crazy place, and who should be anywhere but a kitchen. We also have Andy Milonakis and Max Kasch as Nick and T-Dog, the resident stoner/rappers/busboys. Chi Mcbride plays Bishop, a dishwasher who also specializes in giving out highly perceptive insight and is the guru of this mayhem. We also have John Francis Daley as Mitch, the trainee who has to bear witness, like us, to all of the insanity that takes place on this given day at his new place of employment.

This movie actually works for me on a couple of levels, while it can be quite over the top. I feel these characters are very realistic and well realized. It could be called "National Lampoon's Restaurant". At times I found myself laughing out loud, and that is the ultimate test of a comedy. I also found myself squirming in my seat at a couple of key moments. At its worst, this is gross out comedy, to be sure. But at its best, this film shows such an undeniable insight into the lives and thoughts of its young characters, I was surprised at times at its level of emotion that lies just underneath the surface. Not to mention it's highly truthful and extremely perceptive insight into the restaurant industry, if you have ever worked in one, then you know all of these people and situations, with the exception I hope of anything vengeful done to any food that is truly disgusting! I am going to go with the minority of critics who actually liked this movie.

As for the picture quality, the transfer has upped the notch a couple of bars from its previous DVD release and now we have a presentation that is quite detailed and very colorful, but not perfect. It fills the screen nicely at 1.78:1. There are a few instances of edge enhancement and a few times we notice that things in the background appear a bit soft. Also we have some minor compression artifacting issues. But this is a great looking transfer and at times is quite three-dimensional and the texture of clothing is definitely noticeable. All of the facial details are extraordinarily crisp and sharp. Of course much of this is I'm sure due to original budget limitations and none of this distracted from the film itself. Probably the best it can possibly look, for now. I mean, this is a 50 GB release, what more can you want?

The sound quality is top notch for this dialogue heavy film, and is better than it probably even deserves. A 7.1 PCM Audio (Uncompressed) is what this film gets treated to and it is better than I have ever heard this film sound. The voices are clearly represented and the atmospheric effects of the kitchen and the restaurant come across very realistically in the surrounds and the soundtrack comes across very nicely.

In the special features department, most have been ported over from the original two disc release, with the exception of a small waiter documentary. We even have a few that are brand new and exclusive to this release, which is exciting.

First up we have a video introduction from the director in which he discusses the new Blu-ray release, it's kind of obnoxious. He does explain that they cleaned up the film for this release. It lasts about three minutes and is in high definition.

Next up are the commentaries. We have the 'Expanded Telestrator Commentary' which is one of those gimmicky type features but it does have some interesting aspects to it, they have the ability to pause the picture and point out specific details, and because of this, it takes more than two hours to get through. Still, it's quite interesting most of the time and the details he refers to are a lot clearer in high def than they must have been on the standard edition from 2005.

Next, we have a 'New Cast And Crew Commentary' that was recorded and is now available for the first time on this release, it features the director McKittrick, Andy Milonakis, Anna Faris, Vannessa Lengies, John Francis Daley, Rob Benedict, and co-producer Dean Shull. This commentary doesn't really offer any new insights into the film. I guess it's good for a few laughs, it's just them joking around, with some occasional interesting stories.

'The Works' bills itself as an 'All Access Interactive Video Commentary' but really is just an excellent documentary about the making of the film from beginning to end and really is a lot of fun, especially some of the stories of what it took to get the film made, it truly lucked out in ever getting made, and from what I gather, it stood out because of all of the penis jokes and a little help from producer Dean Shull (whose table he waited on), who read the script and liked it. I find it very interesting seeing how a project like this gets off the ground, especially when it doesn't seem to have a chance. I mean how does someone go from being a waiter to writing and directing a feature film? Fascinating stuff. It's standard definition and runs about 85 minutes, the reason it's interactive is because every once in a while an icon shows up and when you press a button, it accesses special video material. Really it's better just to watch on its own. You can access these little side features in an area called Side Dishes. 'That Little Extra' runs about twenty minutes and is really quite interesting; It follows the production itself, including the making of the restaurant. It's also in standard definition.

We also have another Blu-ray Exclusive, 'Going To The Movies With Rob and Andy: The Waiting Premiere' is Andy Milonakis and the director watching themselves go to the premiere. It's about 14 minutes long and presented in high definition.

And let's not forget the Deleted Scenes, Alternate Takes and Outtakes, none of which offer anything more than the huge amount of info you have already on the documentary and the commentaries. Also, this disc is Java enabled, which means you have the ability to do some truly useless things in very technologically advanced ways. Like bookmarking and sound effects control, I don't really get it, to be quite honest. Yes, that is almost too many bonus features, if you ask me, but this is a lot of added value material, all of this AND the theatrical trailer, let's not forget that. This is the definitive release of this film for many years to come.

I was a waiter in a seafood restaurant on the riverfront right near Canal Street in New Orleans one summer about ten years ago, and have some other waiting experience. I got quite good at it, eventually doing wine presentations and the whole bit. It wasn't for me, in the end. But I must admit, this movie has the restaurant business down, and it is fun to laugh at it from a safe distance. A very safe distance.