Cartoon Body and the Return of Capt. Mal

Greetings loyal and highly refined Mr. Thursday audience! Liam here with my first post on official roster at the Curious Mechanism. The tenure of this debut is going to be about a movie, so get ready. You ready? Ok, let’s do this thing.

If you are anything like me, when you saw the posters for the new Keri Russel movie Waitress, you thought one thing:

“Why have they photoshopped Keri Russell’s head unto a clearly cartoon body?”

Ok, so there is more then likely a good chance none of you thought that. But as I was waiting in my local Regal cinema to see this movie (I had missed it during it’s run at the Philadelphia Film Fest) I was staring at a giant cut our of this poster and thinking that it was one of the oddest things I had ever seen. The body to which they have attached Kerri Russel’s head is so clearly not real, it is not even flatters. My experience with photoshopped bodies is usually seeing the cover of a magazine in the grocery store or borders and thinking that while the proportions of the represented female are impossible, well they still kinda look real. This does not even look real, the arms terribly out of proportion, the body looking like one of thos girls room icons to let you know it is okay to use that one if you are penis free.

So, why bring up this terrible promotional poster? After seeing the film I realized that this poster represents why most people who would like this film will not see it and people like me who loved it will most likely not see it at all. Waitress is written and directed by the now deceased Adrienne Shelly. Shelly passed away mysteriously just before the film opened, and is not able to enjoy the mild success the film has had. Now Shelly is the reason I would even go to see a movie with such a terrible promotional poster in the first place. For those who do not know, Shelly is a relatively accomplished indy film actress, and Waitress represents her sixth directing effort. I have to be honest though, I am only slightly familiar with her entire acting filmography and I have never seen a single other movie she directed.

But, Shelly was in Hal Hartley’s The Unbelievable Truth. Her first film, this ridiculous movie was so odd and unfathomably good when I saw it that Shelly became burned into my mind as just an interesting figure. I am still waiting for Netflix to send me the rest of her career, and it might make an interesting topic to write about on here. Well Waitress, to me, has more in common with offbeat indy films like Hartley’s then the sappy romantic comedey it is being sold as by the terrible poster.

Russell turns in a stellar performance as Jenna, a waitress and master pie chef whose pies spring out of her at moments of stress or creative frustration. The pie ideas alone, as varied as they are delicious sounding are worth the price of the film. Jenna is married to Earl, played by the ever missed Jeremy Sisto, and she hates him. She doesn’t just kind of hate him, she loathes her life with him. Early in the movie we are given our dramatic tension. Earl has gotten Jenna drunk one night and actually had sex with her, and Jenna is worried she may be pregnant. When this is confirmed she laments that it is gonna be even harder to run away from Earl now and start her life over.

Yeah, it is gonna be that kind of movie. The cast, in which Shelly also participates as the cute and insecure dawn, is amazing. I mean, they got freaking Andy Griffith to play a cantankerous and hilarious old man, what else do you want? However, the highlight of the cast for me is the lovable Cap’n Malcolm Reynolds himself, Nathan Fillion. Ever since I saw Serenity and then watched the entire run of Firefly, I have been obsessed with this guy. His comic timing is amazing, and his portrayal here of awkward but charming Dr. Pomatter is classic, as he vacillates between totally in charge and charming to totally confused and flustered in any one scene. There is def a tiny bit of Captain Reynolds in his performance, but I can forgive him this as Reynolds is one of my favorite characters in a long time.

Waitress delivers the laughs with a cynical biting wit and a dark take on human experience and relationships, yet much like hartly who I unfairly will always associate her with, Shelly does not leave us without hope. This film does what movies like Little Miss Sunshine and American Fork have been making more acceptable, and I think partly in the wake of films like Punch-Drunk Love and The Royal Tennenbaums, and that is explore some of the depressing and dark realities of human experience with a smile on their face and a note of hope. Jenna is not perfect, she is not morally pure, and Earl is not just an unsympathetic jerk, nor is Dr Pomatter Jenna’s saviour nor completely blameless. All characters are flawed, they say inappropriate and cruel things at times. Yet their live is never devoid of a certain dignity and beauty, if one is simply willing to be ridiculous enough to see it. Of course, the ending is sappy enough that some who enjoy the biting jokes through out may feel slightly let down. But what exactly is represented by the dirt road in the woods? notice it is not a hospitable place we leave or character in, yet she is still happy and content in her final journey. That is significant i think for where Shelly wanted to leave her audience.

Waitress is hilarious, cruel at times, and very touching. What else do you want? It is really a tragedy that such a talented young director as Shelly is gone, one can only imagine where she would have gone from here. As it is, do yourself a favor and go see this movie before it gets pushed out by another summer blockbuster piece of crap.

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3 Comments

Filed under Movies

3 responses to “Cartoon Body and the Return of Capt. Mal

  1. Jess

    I know who made the poster, and that is actually Keri Russell’s body exactly as is. Why do you think it looks cartoonish?

  2. Jessie

    update these reviews or I will add Crossroads to the top of your Netflix queue. and you know i will!

  3. TC

    Crossroads? The Eric Clapton guitar festival thingy? That’s not so bad…

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