Urine jokes. Fart jokes. Breast and penis jokes. What could be more tasteless? How about telling them all in a place where people are trying to eat? That’s the unappetizing summary of Still Waiting …, one of those unnecessary, straight-to-video sequels designed to make a quick payoff before the first film’s fans catch on.
The 2005 original Waiting . . . was, well, fairly original. Writer-director Rob McKittrick based it very loosely on his own experiences working in typical franchise restaurants – think Bennigan’s, Chili’s or TGIFridays. That ensemble comedy, set in a place named Shenaniganz, starred Ryan Reynolds and Anna Faris, who wisely avoided this tacky follow-up. Returning cast members include Rob Benedict as a horny manager and Alana Ubach as an exceptionally testy hostess. Others, including Justin Long, Chi McBride and Luis Guzman, show up in extended cameos, as do Max Kasch and Andy Milonakis as the white boys who pose as gangsta rappers.
This time around, McKittrick serves as writer-producer, with Jeff Balis stepping in for his directing debut. We wanted to like this comedy because we’ve met Balis – he is from the Tampa Bay area and was in town when he was busy producing Project Greenlight for HBO, and we interviewed him for the Tampa Tribune. But Still Waiting . . . just can’t match the first film’s sense of humanity. While both movies are about slackers and goofballs serving, cooking, bickering and romancing, the sequel is perfunctory and disorganized, without any characters to care about.
This time, the alleged plot involves the restaurant manager (veteran comic character actor John Michael Higgins), who hates being stuck there after a decade and wants to move up the corporate ladder. But if his local store can’t gross $9,000 on the day the movie takes place, he won’t get the promotion. So he lies to the staff, telling them they will all lose their jobs if the goal isn’t met.
Who cares? Certainly not the servers, each of whom has at least one disgusting, disgraceful or off-putting quirk. Same goes for the kitchen help, whose pranks and wisecracks never fail to leave us as cold as a burger served a half-hour late. The main problem is a total lack of heart, soul or subtlety. It’s bad enough when someone mentions camel-toes, but do they really have to illustrate the concept in a close-up? We think not.
The main addition to the old story is a new competitor next door, called Ta-Ta’s Wing Shack. The all-female serving staff wears tight tank tops and skimpy orange short-shorts. If you’re satisfied watching cute girls do a Hooter’s rip-off, then go for it. Otherwise, this parade of lame gross-outs is simply a waste of time, and there’s not enough beer in a keg to make it entertaining.
The 1080p high-def presentation has a 1.78:1 transfer, presented in AVC at a bit rate that varies between 15 and 25 Mpbs. Color and definition are as mediocre as the film itself, although we aren’t sure if this is because of sloppy lab work or shabby cinematography. Obviously shot on a very small budget, the film suffers from poor lighting at almost every stage. It appears that in some scenes, as in the manager’s office, there was only one main spotlight available, resulting in washed-out faces and shadows on the walls.
The main soundtrack is DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 at 48 KHz at 1.8 Mbps, while the commentary track is in Dolby Digital 2.0, 48 KHz at 192 Kbps. The main track is spotty – if you turn it up loud enough to hear the dialogue, you risk getting blown away when a song comes on. It’s not pretty, but the presumed audience for this slush probably won’t care. More on the secondary track in a moment.
Audio commentary with Balis and McKittrick: While Balis tries to explain how and why he did what he did, McKittrick plays wise guy throughout, cracking mean jokes and generally being obnoxious. The resulting chatter sounds like a series of apologies for the project’s many flaws, along with praise for the participants who managed to perform under crappy circumstances. If you’re a filmmaker, you should skip the main feature and listen to this instead, hoping to avoid similar predicaments. At least the guys were honest: Their main goal here was simply to make a few bucks.
Deleted/extended/alternate scenes (23:23) Actually, a few of these 21 bits are better than the stuff in the final cut. That’s because they are about believable situations, with servers being hounded by idiotic customers. And Justin Long improvises an amusing little monologue and an office scene with Higgins and David Koechner (another fine improviser). But it’s mostly throwaway material. Like the movie itself, only displayed in Mpeg at 4 or 5 Mbps.
Outtake montages (6:25) It’s kind of fun to watch actors react when they screw up a scene. Barely.
Sloppy seconds: The Making of “Still Waiting . . .” (46:13) More than half as long as the movie itself, this behind-the-scenes scrapbook has better quality laughs than the feature. Actor interviews have that familiar scent of folks who know they’re stuck in a turkey and are determined to make the best of it. McKittrick again makes light of his work’s severe limitations, and Balis takes a cheerful attitude about the silliness of the thing. To their credit, the filmmakers don’t ever take themselves seriously, and they do explain a lot of the choices they had to make.
While very few consumers will want to buy this item, it’s worth a cheap rental if you are (a) a restaurant worker who would like to imagine a worse boss than your own, or (b) hosting a large group of indiscriminate, heavy-drinking boors.