I was watching a documentary on Ken Russell’s The Devils the other day, wherein British composer Sir Peter Maxwell Davies remarked, “People say he’s got bad taste. Well, yes, he does — and thank God for it!” What has this got to do with first-time writer-director Rob McKittrick’s Waiting …? Simply that McKittrick strives for bad taste, but only manages to arrive at tastelessness. As John Waters once said: “To understand bad taste one must have very good taste.”
McKittrick quite simply has no taste at all — and he demonstrates this with cruelly alarming tenacity for 93 painfully long minutes. I have noticed that the film does score high marks on the frat-boy level, but this is mostly expressed by persons who insist on referring to Animal House and Caddyshack as classic comedies.
Now, I may be something of an aging curmudgeon in this area, but when I think of classic comedies, my mind gravitates toward Chaplin and the “Dance of the Oceania Rolls” in The Gold Rush, or W.C. Fields’ “Sleeping Porch” sequence in It’s a Gift, or the Marx Brothers sabotaging Il Trovatore in A Night at the Opera. I do not think of John Belushi impersonating a zit in Animal House, or Bill Murray battling a mechanical gopher in Caddyshack. It isn’t that I have anything against more modern comedies. I would include Blazing Saddles, Monty Python and the Holy Grail and What’s Up, Doc? on any list of essential comedies, and would consider even such newcomers as Eurotrip and, to a lesser degree, Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle as possibilities, to name a few examples.
Waiting …, however, is the sort of movie only a high school kid filled with an inordinate quantity of illicitly obtained spiritus fermenti could love, though I suppose that anyone who giggles uncontrollably at gags involving bodily excretions, sex and that old frat-mentality standby, homosexual panic, might find merit of a sort. Put simply, this a cheap, cheesy movie about unlikable characters engaging in a series of puerile gross-out gags and juvenile sexual behavior.
If this movie had a brain, it would take it out and scribble graffiti of the “for a good time call…” variety on it. Actually, I’ve read far wittier things on men’s room walls, come to think of it.
The movie’s premise consists of allowing us a glimpse of a typical day at a restaurant called Shennaniganz (think Applebee’s, Chili’s, TGI Friday’s, etc), mostly through the eyes of a hapless trainee (John Francis Daley, TV’s Freaks and Geeks). Since this is a movie, the entire crew is comprised of poster children for the terminally dysfunctional.
The lead is Ryan Reynolds, an actor I disliked in Van Wilder, liked in Blade Trinity and Harold and Kumar, and disliked again in The Amityville Horror. Given the 50 percent factor, I was willing to blame his lesser contributions to the performing arts on the material. The difficulty is that here Reynolds is a large part of the problem. The smart-assery that served him well in Blade Trinity is feeling more and more like mechanical smarminess. He does have one punchy scene with Wendie Malick (TV’s Dream On) as his mother, though this mostly works because of Justin Long’s (Jeepers Creepers) reactions. Overall Reynolds seems to be vying with Johnny Knoxville for the title of Hollywood’s sleaziest performer.
The rest of the cast isn’t much better. Chi McBride (Roll Bounce) preserves some dignity, and John Francis Daley has the film’s only funny scene — where he accurately sizes up this crew of supposedly lovable misfits — and it’s ruined by his decision to join their ranks.
All this to one side, I cannot but wonder about the career sense of one Melissa Alonzo (an apparent newcomer), who is given a most improbable screen credit for allowing the most personal part of her anatomy to stand in for that of Alanna Ubach (Meet the Fockers) in a skirt-raising scene. It is, however, one of the more persuasive performances in the film. Rated R for strong crude and sexual humor, pervasive language and some drug use.
– reviewed by Ken Hanke