A day in the life of one branch of chain restaurant Shenanigans sees several of the mostly young staff members facing personal problems. Cocky ladies' man Monty (Ryan Reynolds) has hopes of seducing the underage Natasha (Vanessa Lengies). Dean (Justin Long) wonders whether to accept a promotion to Assistant Manager. And Calvin (Robert Patrick Benedict) has problems using the urinal which may be rooted in deeper frustration. Still, everyone has time for the "penis-showing game" ...
Review by Jake Wilson:
The film starts. Behind the opening credits, a smarmy wiseguy waiter in his mid-20s is cracking jokes about statutory rape as he leers at his 17-year-old co-worker. Hang on, you think, is this dude imitating the young Val Kilmer? Is this a throwback to those '80s comedies where yuppie wannabes get laid, then beat the system by smashing everything up? Apparently not; it seems the characters couldn't afford anything beyond "community college", and judging by the cinematography the filmmakers didn't have money to throw away either. Oh well. The sets will remain intact.
A few minutes later, all is clear. Visual interest replaced by pedantically "outrageous" dialogue, no sex but no end of "sexual references" - it's an imitation Kevin Smith movie! But with less pretension and a bigger ensemble cast. There are enough stereotypes here for roughly two-and-a-half sitcoms: dorky new guy, dorky virgin, dorky stoner busboys, wise black dishwasher, earthy Hispanic cook, angry girl, sexy girl, lesbian, ultra-dorky and balding manager (the scapegoat who brings everyone else together). Subplots ensue, including a running gag where the guys all compete at flashing their dicks. You know it's a 21st century movie because the characters are self-conscious about their sexism and homophobia. The angry girl has one funny line: "I hate foreigners" (expletive deleted).
Meanwhile the everyman hero has been hit by the sudden realisation that he's a loser. The movie deepens. Not just a lowbrow comedy, it's a meditation on the horror of the void. It hardly needs saying that the title has significance on several levels. Waiting on customers ... waiting for your life to get started ... waiting to leave the cinema. As with Kevin Smith, the anomie is part of the point - conveying all too directly the boredom of a dead-end job, time spent living off recycled air and jokes that get less funny with every repetition. Outside where the busboys go to inhale nitrous oxide and practice their hip-hop moves, you can see cars go by on the highway in the distance. No-one told them they were part of this story. You wish you could break through the screen and hitch a ride.
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CAST: Ryan Reynolds, Anna Faris, Justin Long, David Koechner, Luis Guzmán, Chi McBride, John Francis Daley, Kaitlin Doubleday
PRODUCER: Jeff Balis, Robert O. Green, Stavros Merjos, Jay Rifkin, Adam Rosenfelt
DIRECTOR: Rob McKittrick
SCRIPT: Rob McKittrick
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Matthew Irving
EDITOR: Andy Blumenthal, David Finfer
MUSIC: Adam Gorgoni
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Devorah Herbert
RUNNING TIME: 93 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Hoyts
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: December 1, 2005
VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Sony Pictures Entertainment
VIDEO RELEASE: May 3, 2006
RIVERSIDE SNEAK PEEK PREMIERES
A program of premiere screenings of new movies prior to their commercial release
on 4 consecutive Tuesdays - March 10, 17, 24, 31, 2015 - at Riverside Theatre,
Curated & presented by Andrew L. Urban, discussion to
follow with special guests. Briefing notes provided.