2005’s “Waiting” was a lowbrow plunge into the endless ocean of raunchy comedy, finding some merit within its lived-in perspective on the cruel business of being a chain restaurant server. The movie ended up a cult hit, perhaps in great part to its vocational candor. Now the dubious DTV barrel vomits up the sequel, “Still Waiting,” and it’s crushing to observe the follow-up assume a Cro-Magnon comedic vision over an effort to build on the universal eatery frustrations of the original picture.Celebrating his tenth year with the Shenaniganz restaurant chain, manager Dennis (John Michael Higgins) is lonely, depressed, and about to fall short of his critical financial goals that would lead him to a promotion. Finding his location losing business to the Hooters-style joint Ta-Ta’s next door, Dennis plans a night of great service effort to save the restaurant, much to the annoyance of his staff: lothario server Agnew (Steve Howey, doing an insufferable Ryan Reynolds impression), enraged hostess Naomi (Alanna Ubach), B-boy busboy Nick (Andy Milonakis), prankster chef Chuck (Chris Williams), and philosopher bartender Hank (Kirk Fox).
"More ugly, less Ryan Reynolds"
Shockingly, “Waiting” mastermind Rob McKittrick passed on the director’s chair for this continuation, instead contributing only a screenplay. So remarkably self-assured that crude comic concepts and blue-streak profanity were the only possible reasons anyone bothered to endure the previous film, McKittrick digs even further into the dark recesses of his narrow artistic mind to dream up a fresh round of gross-out set-pieces and various shockers to keep the alleged faithful satisfied.
With abortion, urine, dog feces, flatulence (referred to as “crop dusting”), and semen jokes sent out to intermingle with the film's racist overtones and gags making fun of blind people, “Still Waiting” is an expectedly laugh-free affair, coated with a thin, sticky layer of smugness from McKittrick, who adores his obsolete smutty attitude. I'm glad someone finds this pageant of lowbrow humor hilarious. Long gone is the delicious, cutting insight into industry behavior and outrageous customer ordering tics; McKittrick's well is dry, and he builds a tired rehash of junk food comedy bits with “Still Waiting” that are more interested in hitting the viewer abruptly in the face than connecting to even a passing shot at restaurant reality, as the first film showcased in a few brief, memorable scenes.
The director here is Jeff Balis, perhaps best known as the carrot-topped whipping boy producer of the “Project Greenlight” television series. Being Balis's filmmaking debut, there's little hope for the director to soften McKittrick’s blows and reshape the project’s dementia. It’s a sluggish directorial job, more about survival than a needed creative explosion. However, “Still Waiting's” relentless irritation is hardly Balis's fault. After all, I doubt any director could make jokes about Jewish stinginess, African-American Kool-Aid preferences, and Hooters funny. And frankly, why would anyone want to?
“Still Waiting” is only a cheap cash-in on the first film's unexpected DVD success, and very little money was spent to lure popular old faces back. The main cast is populated with pale imitations of former stars Reynolds and Anna Faris, while actual returning cast members only show up for brief cameos that took merely a day to shoot (David Koechner, Luis Guzman), or in some cases a few minutes (Chi McBride, Justin Long, Vanessa Lengies). Sadly, the only other actor capable of squeezing this flaccid teat of comedy and finding a drop of laughs is Higgins, and that’s because he’s a well-trained pro. Balis and McKittrick don’t have a clue what to do with him.“Waiting” was a wildly uneven experience to begin with, making the inability of “Still Waiting” to top it unbelievable. Imagined as a crude 90 minutes of repetitive, obnoxious behavior, “Still Waiting” is a dreadful movie, and worse, if you can believe this one, something of a disappointment. With nothing new to offer the world of restaurant parody, this needless sequel is more skilled at lowering IQs than generating laughs.
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originally posted: 02/13/09 09:25:46