Waitress 

Directed by Adrienne Shelly

There is a shadow hanging over this comedy: the much-publicized murder of Waitress’ writer/director/actress Adrienne Shelly. Hopefully, in the long run, Shelly can be remembered for her artistic achievements and not for the way her life ended. She directs Waitress with a light touch, and while the film seems to have been created with high aspirations in mind, it doesn’t quite reach them. The waitress of the title is Jenna (Keri Russell), a woman who is married to an abusive husband and whose only solace is making pies at the country diner where she works. Early on in the film Jenna discovers she is pregnant, but fears for the future because of her marital situation. There are some funny moments here, but they are more likely to produce smirks than laughter, due to a prevailing sense of goofiness, rather than one of uproarious comedy. The tone alternates between comedy and drama and unfortunately, these elements remain largely disparate. Andy Griffith appears as Joe, the old curmudgeon with a heart who owns the diner, and his scenes are some of the strongest. Waitress doesn’t completely realize its potential, but it has a lot of heart, and despite its flaws, is a commendable effort.

Opens May 4

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