Waiting…’ serves a gross-out plate of lame comedy

“Waiting…”

Lions Gate Films

Written and directed by Rob McKittrick

Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Ana Faris, Justin Long, David Koechner, Luis Guzman and Chi McBride

Rated R/103 minutes

Opened Oct. 7, 2005

Two out of four stars

“Waiting…” is an episodic, day-in-the-life comedy that desperately wants to be the culinary equivalent of Kevin Smith’s “Clerks”-but without the madcap wit and lovably elitist geek-show attitude. It walks the walk, but it does not talk the talk.

If Smith were dead, he’d be rolling in his grave.

“Waiting’s” overworked, oversexed and underpaid employees at Shenanigans-a garish, Applebee’s-style restaurant, complete with yesterday’s garage sale nailed up on the wall-don’t like their jobs, and they don’t like you.

Alpha-waiter Monty (Ryan Reynolds) confirms our fears when a royal beast of a customer complains about the food, and he promptly has the cooks garnish her meal with a smorgasbord of bodily fluids.

“Don’t mess with the people who prepare your food,” Monty tells Mitch (John Francis Daley), a wide-eyed trainee, aghast at the sort of shenanigans going on backstage.

Monty and Serena (Ana Faris, sporting an entire cosmetics aisle’s worth of mascara) used to go out, but Monty got bored…or Serena got bored…neither one knows for sure who was responsible for the breakup.

Calvin (Patrick Benedict) pinches his bladder all day-he has a staggering fear of public restrooms after a guy checked out his junk at the urinal.

The cooks (including Chi McBride, Dane Cook and the inimitable Luis Guzman) drop food on the floor like slippery soap. “Five-second rule! Five-second rule!” they shout. If time runs out, they spring for the ten-second rule.

Dean (played by Justin Long) is the Dante character (“I shouldn’t even be here today!”), saddled with the movie’s weak reach for meaning.

He’s a full-time wage-slave who will never get a college degree because the job he took to pay for that degree monopolizes his time. In other words, he’s waiting for life to happen, but it won’t until he budges from his pit.

Alas, Dean’s plight is but a blip on this movie’s radar. “Waiting…” is more interested in wallowing in the sort of sex and gross-out jokes that require truly inspired comedy writing to rise above the vulgar and mundane.

Like an over- ambitious film student, writer/director Rob McKittrick is only interested in shock for shock’s sake and his “Ooo! Look what I can do!” Steadicam shots.

It’s a shame. He’s assembled a fine cast, including Reynolds and Guzman, who get laughs just for showing up.

And the stupefying, pride-swallowing details of the waiting life sometimes recall the so-surreal-it-must-be-real comedy of “Office Space.”

But unlike the loveable, quick-witted jackasses in that movie and in “Clerks,” the employees at Shenanigans are just jerks.

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