“Instead of moving back to the movie wall, I took a step back to the video store DVD’s for a rewatch. Don’t know if you’re aware, but Waitress has been adapted as a musical that’s playing here in the Boston area (just a mile away from me in Cambridge!). It’s directed by Tony winner Diane Paulus, starring Tony winner Jessie Mueller, featuring music by Grammy nominee Sara Bareilles. I was fortunate enough to see it earlier this month, which made me want to revisit the movie. I’d only watched it for the first time when I specifically picked it up at the video store because of the musical.
Even since before the musical, I knew that this movie had a fairly good reputation, partly due to respected actress/writer Adrienne Shelly (who I just now learned played Dawn in the movie). It was Shelly’s final film before her untimely death. I’d held off on watching the film because it seemed too chick flick-y for my tastes. If only someone had pointed out that Nathan Fillion was in it, I would have seen it much much sooner. Also, it is really good.
The stage show tracked pretty well with the screenplay, so writing up one sorta writes up the other. True, the biggest flaw in the musical was the lack of Fillion, but he did go see it, even though I doubt he sat as far back as my cheap seat at the rear of the theater.
Stopping myself from diving into a tangent. The story is about small town waitress, Jenna, who dreams of leaving her abusive husband and starting her own life somewhere, where she can bake pies all day and be happy. She unexpectedly becomes pregnant and ends up forming a, let’s go with “”close””, relationship with her doctor, as she plots her escape to freedom.
I think what I love most about this story is how realistic and strong Jenna is. Pretty much any movie ever, if the woman is pregnant, that’s all she’s about and she’s this gushing mother. Well unless she’s unwed and underage, but that’s a whole other deal. Jenna was not happy about it, and her stoic stance on the matter was so refreshing. Yes, much of the film was about her relationship with the doctor, but that wasn’t the important thing. She was not defined by him (or her husband), and the real story was in how she was living her life.
And it’s so funny too! I love her co-worker waitress friends. The musical especially gave them a chance to shine and borrow the spotlight for a bit. Just everyone is well thought out and important to the story. No one’s there to be a cipher or a punchline. On stage, the music just heightens everything. It was just beautiful, and a near perfect show. Most of the time, I leave a musical thinking that the cast was great, or the book was clever, or some other specific piece that stands out as to why the show was great. Waitress was one of those rare ones where you can’t pick one thing because everything is equally effective. Kinky Boots is another recent example of that for me.
I watched the film again after the show and loved it even more. Both complement the other wonderfully. Hopefully I don’t have to wait until too long after it’s upcoming Broadway transfer for a cast album, because I’m dying to hear those beautiful songs again.”