Waitress is a 2007 dramedy about Jenna, an unhappily married waitress/pie-baking-genius from the deep south. When she discovers she is pregnant by her abusive and domineering husband, she decides to keep the unwanted baby against all reason, leading to a passionate affair with her new (and very much married) gynecologist. The film follows her small steps towards self-awareness, independence and happiness, while being accompanied by the staff and customers of the diner she works in and their own stories.
Directed by Adrienne Shelly, whose shockingly random murder overshadowed the mostly positive reviews of the film, it stars Keri Russell as Jenna, Jeremy Sisto as her husband Earl, Nathan Fillion as the gynecologist Dr. Pomatter, Cheryl Hines as her promiscuous friend Becky, and Andy Griffith as Joe, the diner's owner.
As of April 24, 2016 there is now a musical version on Broadway with music by Sara Bareilles and a book by Jessie Nelson, starring Jessie Mueller as Jenna Hunterson.
This movie contains examples of:
- Ambiguous Disorder: Dawn seems to have some severe social anxiety, as explained in "When He Sees Me", and shows some characteristics of having Aspergers Syndrome
- Adorkable: Dr. Pomatter, in spades. Then again, he is played by Nathan Fillion.
- Ogie, as well. His spontaneous poems do grow on you after a while.
- Dawn is this as well, especially in the musical.
- Appeal to Worse Problems: Becky and Dawn acknowledge that while Jenna has great skin and breasts with a knack for making pies, as lonely (Dawn) or mundane and worrisome (Becky) their lives may get, they don't envy Jenna at all due to her asshole husband.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Dawn is worried her blind date will be a murderer, a stalker...or colorblind.
- Babies Make Everything Better: Subverted. Jenna finally does gather the courage to ditch her husband after her daughter is born, but this is merely the last step of a long emancipation process. Rather, she makes things better for the baby.
- Beautiful All Along: Dawn states that she's "almost pretty" when Jenna does her makeup. But Jenna and Becky are having none of it and tell her she's always been pretty.
- Belligerent Sexual Tension: Becky and Cal.Becky: Okay, so fire me!
Cal: Okay, I will!
Becky: Okay, then do!
(intense eye contact)
- Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: An in-universe example where Jenna is smiling happily while carrying trays to customers. Both Cal and Becky look extremely confused when this happens.
- Birds of a Feather: Ogie and Dawn are this in the musical, as both enjoy Revolutionary War reenactments.
- Bittersweet Ending: Jenna escapes her abusive husband and opens a pie shop with her daughter, but Joe dies and Jenna ends things (albeit amicably) with Dr. Pomatter. For fans of their relationship, it's a bit disappointing, though it is realistic.
- Broken Bird: Jenna.
- Buffy Speak: Lots, and it tends to be delivered by the adorable neurotic Dr. Pomatter. But considering who plays him, that's no stretch.
- Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Dawn, somewhat. Her husband is nearly a full-blown case.
- Cloudcuckoolander's Minder: Becky is this in regards to Dawn in the musical.
- Cool Old Guy: Joe.
- Crapsaccharine World: On occasions the film's aesthetic is very similar to another piemaker's story. The darkness of the touched topics, however, prevents the idyllic Southern setting from becoming a Sugar Bowl.
- Crazy Jealous Guy: Earl is violently jealous.
- The Cutie: Dawn. Especially in the musical.
- Deadpan Snarker: Jenna and Joe.
- Defrosting Ice Queen: Childbirth finally defrosts Jenna.
- Did Not Get the Girl: Disappointing to some, but Dr. Pomatter is a married man and it's a much more realistic ending than if they got together.
- Domestic Abuse: Jenna's husband is a particularly nasty version because it's not physical, though he does finally hit her when she tries to leave for the pie-baking contest in another state. All the damage is done through emotional put-downs, due to his misogyny and general ignorance of anything regarding her feelings, thoughts or desires. The film does an excellent job portraying how difficult it is to extract oneself out of this sort of situation without being Anvilicious.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: Jenna. And how!
- Emotionless Girl: Jenna starts as this.
- Food Porn: Jenna's pies will have you drooling through the entire film.
- Foreshadowing: Joe's words about not being around for much longer. Poor guy.
- Good Adultery, Bad Adultery: It's Lampshaded where Jenna actually states to Becky that "having an affair is wrong because everyone involved will get hurt", while she continues to have her affair.
- Good Girls Avoid Abortion: On Broadway, despite openly admitting that she isn't happy about the pregnancy, Jenna says, "I'm not going to do. . .that", when Dr. Pomatter naturally assumes that this means that she wants to terminate it.
- Hate Sink: Earl has zero redeeming qualities.
- Hopeless Suitor: Ogie appears to be one at first. Dawn isn't the only one underestimating his determination to win her over.
- Incompatible Orientation: Cal's wife Ethel may or may not be gay; the fact they haven't slept together in fifteen years is why he's having an affair with Becky. Played for Laughs.Becky: "What kind of man leaves his wife just because she's gay?"
- Insistent Terminology: Jenna refuses to call Dr. Pomatter by his first name (Jim).
- It's All About Me: Earl claims to love Jenna but he treats her like his property, not as a loved one or even just as a person. He even makes her promise not to love the baby more than him. (In the musical, he reminds her of this promise immediately after she finishes giving birth.)
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold:
- Cal also counts. He tells Jenna that he's "not such a bad guy after all" when she officially tells him she's pregnant. He also tries to intervene when Earl was getting physical at Dawn and Ogie's wedding.
- Job Title
- Karma Houdini: Sweet and loving man that he is, Dr. Pomatter did cheat on his wife with no consequences other than eventually losing Jenna, who spared him to repair his marriage without turmoil.
- Last-Name Basis: Jenna won't call Dr. Pomatter by his first name even though he uses hers.
- Law of Inverse Fertility: Jenna, who doesn't want and can't really afford a baby, and almost never sleeps with her abusive husband, has unprotected sex with him once and ends up pregnant.
- Leitmotif: The music that plays whenever Jenna invents a new pie.
- Momma's Boy: Ogie states to be this.
- My Secret Pregnancy:
- Jenna tries to hide her pregnancy from her husband. It actually works for a while because he's such a thick-headed moron, but he of course catches on after a while.
- Jenna waits to tell her boss at the right time. Truth is, he knew. "Nobody told me. Nobody needs to tell me. I mean, look at you. What'd you think; I thought you went and got fat? Truth be told, as long as you can carry a tray and fill a pie tin, I don't care if you give birth while doing it".
- Odd Friendship: Jenna develops one with Old Joe.
- Off-into-the-Distance Ending: The last shot of Jenna and Lulu walking off.
- One-Word Title: As a single work Job Title.
- Pet the Dog: Rather deconstructed. Earl has a breakdown, cries about the possibility of losing Jenna and permits her to buy a crib for the baby. If anything, it does portray the abusive marriage even more realistically. Such Pet the Dog moments in a husband like this are probably what makes leaving a cruel man harder, because after all, look, he can be good sometimes, so maybe he can be good all the time, if only you just keep trying. They're the "honeymoon phase" in the cycle of abuse.
- Pretty Boy: Dr. Pomatter, as pointed out by Dawn.
- Psychopathic Man Child: Earl, who's a pathetic whiner at best.
- Running Gag: "I gotta go throw up."
- Secret Relationship: Jenna and Dr. Pomatter. Cal and Becky, the ones who are constantly bickering!
- She Cleans Up Nicely: Dawn can be very pretty.
- Snark-to-Snark Combat: Becky and Cal go back and forth with one another with almost every conversation they have. Especially in the musical.
- Sympathetic Adulterer: Jenna, who has an abusive husband. Becky, whose husband is barely there (physically and mentally speaking), also counts. Likely averted with Dr. Pomatter, whose wife is slightly obnoxious at worst in the short time she's seen, although it's implied he's unhappily married.
- Thousand-Yard Stare: Jenna. Sometimes, it's Played for Laughs, but it's just as often used to show how much of a Broken Bird Jenna is.
- Your Cheating Heart: One of the main controversies surrounding the film was its portrayal of marital infidelity in a seemingly positive light. Of course, it's Deconstructed in the ending when Jenna notices Mrs. Pomatter's loving devotion to her husband.
- Cal and Becky also count. They're both married to someone else.