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BLU-RAY Review: WAITING... (1 Viewer)

Big Ben

Apr 23, 2009
Real Name
Benjamin Stahly
This review was conducted with the following HD viewing equipment:
  • [COLOR= #0000ff]Sharp AQUOS 52” LC-52SE94U 1080p Flat-Panel LCD HDTV [via HDMI][/COLOR]
  • [COLOR= #339966]Samsung BDP-5000 Dual-format BD/HD-DVD player (currently on Profile 1.4 firmware) w/ Ethernet input and ReonSD 1080p upconversion [via HDMI][/COLOR]
  • [COLOR= #993366]Monster Cable Ultra 1000 (10.2Gbps) for HDMI [for BDP-5000 to receiver][/COLOR]
  • [COLOR= #ff9900]Monster Cable Ultra 1000 (10.2Gbps) for HDMI [for receiver to HDTV}[/COLOR]
  • [COLOR= #ff0000]Pioneer VSX-1018 AH-K Audio/Video multi-channel HD receiver (THX certified) [/COLOR]
  • Sony SSCN5000 center channel speaker
  • [COLOR= #993300]Sony SSB3000 left and right bookshelf speakers[/COLOR]
  • [COLOR= #808000]Klipsch Synergy SS.5 surround speakers [/COLOR](left & right surround, left & right surr. back)
  • Optimus Pro SW-200P 200-watt powered subwoofer

Lionsgate Home Entertainment/2005/94 Minutes/ Unrated
Blu-Ray Street Date: July 17, 2007

Overall Grade: 3 stars

The Movie Itself: 4 out of 5 stars
HD Video Quality: 2 out of 5 stars
HD Audio Quality: 4 out of 5 stars
Supplements: 3 out of 5 stars
Hi-Def Extras: 1.5 out of 5 stars

Bottom Line: Good movie, mediocre disc

“If you wanna work here…in this restaurant, you need to ask yourself one simple question: How do you feel about frontal male nudity?”

[COLOR= #ff0000]The Movie Itself[/COLOR]

When Kevin Smith came out with his directorial debut Clerks in 1994, he influenced many an individual whom were big film buffs but novices as filmmakers to let their working-class voices be heard. Among these individuals was waiter Rob McKittrick who after years of infuriating the daily grind of cheap, spoiled, unappreciative patrons and bigheaded management took out his frustrations with a screenplay simply titled Waiting.
The film follows a day in the life of the employees of ShenaniganZ restaurant (a fictional amalgamation of T.G.I. Friday’s, Applebees’s and the now-defunct Bennigan’s). As the day unfolds the quirks and insecurities of the establishment workers come to light. Head waiter Monty (Ryan Reynolds) introduces us to the world of ShenaniganZ though the eyes of the seemingly-timid new trainee Mitch (John Francis Daley of TV’s Freaks and Geeks). We witness the unsettling - yet hilarious - eccentricities of the staff: there’s the ambition-deflated Dean (Justin Long) and the innocent Amy (Kaitlin Doubleday) who have recently begun dating; Monty’s promiscuous ex-girlfriend Serena (Anna Faris); egotistical, clueless manager Dan (David Koechner); the disturbingly insecure Calvin (Robert Benedict); over-stressed and livid Naomi (Alanna Ubach); Bishop (Chi McBride), a surprisingly astute dish-washer sage; sexy, brazen lesbian Tyla (Emmanuelle Chiriqui) & daffy Danielle (Jordan Ladd) who work as bartenders; flirtatious jailbait hostess Natasha (Vanessa Lengies); rapper-wannabe busboys Nick & T-Dog (Andy Milonakis & Max Kasch); and last but not least, there’s head cooks Floyd (Dane Cook) & Raddimus (Luis Guzman) who have kept worker moral up by creating a game involving exposing their private parts in various ways.
Waiting lacks much of a story save for a character arc involving Dean’s desire to break away from his doldrums after learning of a former high school classmate who recently acquired a six-figure salary position. Instead, the majority of the movie showcases our assembly of servers waxing one another on their idiosyncrasies and misanthropic attitudes all while taking out their frustrations on the frequent smug and discourteous customers who give them a difficult time on a daily basis. Some waiters go in the back and scream their head off while others go to more extreme, cruder measures to exact revenge (or at least give themselves some temporary serenity).
Even though I referred to Kevin Smith at the beginning of this review, I didn’t pick up on McKittrick’s emulation of Smith’s Clerks until after I discussed the flick with some friends who had just seen the movie upon my recommendation. While both Clerks and Waiting feature young, irresponsible people frustrated about relationships and their place in life, Clerks felt over-analytical and unrealistic with its drawn-out dialogues. Waiting is more honest and practical in the day-to-day grind of people who have to put a smile on their face to earn a living. McKittrick wrote Waiting as a love letter of sorts to food servers, having seen things from their side of the restaurant, and he feels their pain.
The cast brings great personality and flamboyance to their characters: Reynolds (in full Van Wilder mode) brings an infectious energy to Monty. Ubach, Cook and the always dependable McBride & Guzman have some uproarious moments as well. The delusional Caucasian rappers Nick & T-Dog are the weakest characters in the movie, Thankfully, McKittrick and editor David Finfer apply them sparingly throughout.
As much as I’d like to go into detail about what actions our leads take to get back at their unworthy patrons, I can’t for two reasons (depending on what kind of movie-goer you are). Either you like to be surprised and don’t want the best gags of a comedy to be given away, or you have a reticent attitude and don’t care for crude behavior and salty dialogue. Let me put it this way, if you’re not a fan a films like Clerks, Office Space, Mallrats, or American Pie. Waiting will very likely not be for you. Nevertheless, those who have more bad days than good at their job(s) should find Waiting very fulfilling and therapeutic to watch.

“Mitch…I want you to do a couple of things for me. First, I want you to observe very closely your surrounding today. Take everything in. Leave no mental stone unturned. Can you do that for me Mitch? Good. Then, I want you to think about what your life would be like if you’d have been born blind.”

[COLOR= #3366ff]The Blu-Ray: Vital Disc Stats[/COLOR]

Waiting was first released on DVD in February 2006 in three separate 2-Disc incarnations: A fullscreen version of the R-Rated theatrical cut as well as two separate versions of the “Unrated and Raw” cut available in widescreen and fullscreen.
This Blu-Ray contains only the Unrated Cut, which has the same running time as the rated version and contains alternate and/or slightly extended shots of the some of the employees’ genitalia. Also some brief dialogue material between Dean & Amy has been trimmed during the climatic house party sequence, as indicated by McKittrick in his commentary track.

[COLOR= #ff0000]The Video[/COLOR]

Waiting has been served on Blu-Ray with a 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 transfer within a single BD-50 disc. The film’s matted 1.85:1 aspect ratio has been opened up on the top and bottom to fill the full 1.78:1 HD screen format. Of all the Blu-Rays and HD-DVDs I’ve viewed to date, this is without question the most troublesome Hi-Def transfer I’ve seen (The 40-Year-Old-Virgin being a close second).
First, let’s start with the positives: Fleshtones were accurate and posterization was never present at any point throughout. A major plus this transfer offered was its amazingly sumptuous boost in color. This was made most prevalent in the assorted-color restaurant uniforms the characters wear in the movie, which never struck any attention from me when I saw the film in theaters and on DVD. The deep wooden browns of ShenaniganZ’ bar and the pool table greens of its walls were quite arresting to look at. Despite the intense color reproduction I couldn’t spot any instances of bleeding.
Now onto the bad news: Never had I thought that DNR could be used to such an extreme effect until I saw the wax museum textures on all the actors faces in this Blu-Ray. I saw Waiting twice during its theatrical run and what stood out technically about the movie was the overabundance of grain on the print. I had suspicions, given the film’s low budget and free-to-roam camera movement, that the movie had been photographed on 16mm and blown up to 35mm for its theatrical run, which would explain the grain. I clearly saw this same amount of grain on the DVD version 5 months later. However, according to McKittrick (on the Blu-Ray extras) he indeed shot the movie on 35mm and apparently was most displeased with how the theatrical prints looked on-screen as well as on its DVD transfer.
The excess of DNR that Lionsgate applied to this transfer certainly got rid of all the grain, and in doing so also caused all kinds of finer details (both background and foreground) to get lost in the transition. After doing a direct comparison between the DVD and Blu-Ray versions, I actually picked up more object detail (despite lots of video noise) on the DVD such as fabric texture on characters shirts as well as facial features like Monty’s 5 o’clock shadow which on the Blu-Ray looked like someone drew a bunch of little brown dots around his jawline. In spite of all the DNR utilized, video noise still popped up many times on stainless steel surfaces during the kitchen scenes. Plus, I spotted minor edge enhancement on objects in front of hot white backgrounds.
Contrasts were strong on the Blu-Ray, though there were some brief instances of blooming whites. Black levels were deep and on par with the DVD transfer, but shadow delineation was lost on particular shots like one’s featuring characters dressed in black clothing. In the case of the film’s photographic aesthetic, I feel the cinematographer’s style is to be held liable for the visual black crush.
On an additional note, the added “unrated” footage featured within the final 20 minutes of the movie was clearly of much poorer picture quality than the rest of the film. It looked as if the footage was recorded off of a lo-res VHS dupe and then blown up to fill a 16x9 screen. Macroblocking and other various crude artifacts were clearly visible in these brief shots, even when viewing the image from an above-average distance. My God, how could this happen?

[COLOR= #ff0000]The Audio[/COLOR]

Waiting has been graced with a rich uncompressed 7.1 PCM soundtrack as well as a lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 EX surround track. In addition, subtitles are provided in English and Spanish.
In comparing the two tracks, the PCM wins in all categories, opening up the soundtrack with pleasing dynamic range when played against the Dolby track. Dialogue & music are both appropriately balanced within the feature. There were a few dialogue moments that sounded rather muddy, but I find this is to blame for poor recording on the film’s set rather than a Blu-Ray issue. The soundscape of the kitchen and dining room scenes feel natural and never over-bearing. While some HD-enthusiasts might look a gift horse in the mouth regarding the presence of a 7.1 audio mix for a low-budget comedy, I have no reason to complain. Even though there are no real directional sound effects used for the surround channels, atmospheric sound was consistently present during the restaurant scenes in all four of my discrete surround speakers. In a nutshell, this is a most-admirable upgrade from Lionsgate.

“Remember gang, the difference between ordinary and extraordinary…is that little extra.”

[COLOR= #ff0000]The Supplements[/COLOR]

The following supplements have been ported-over from the DVD edition. Certain features have been upgraded to 1080p and all the extras are presented in 2.0 Dolby Surround.

  • Expanded Telestrator Commentary (HD, 1.78:1) 2 hrs, 10 min

Encoded as a separate feature, this mischievous commentary with McKittrick and Producer Jeff Balis (of Project Greenlight: Season 1 & 2 fame) allows the filmmakers to freeze the image, reverse/replay scenes and draw diagrams to point out specific background details that viewers may not have caught on initial viewing(s). The repartee between the duo is engaging and never without any quiet gaps. However McKittrick’s occasional anecdotal rants tend to veer off into inconsequential tangents that drag the proceedings out longer than needed. This is still worth viewing though.

  • “THE WORKS” Documentary (SD, 16x9) Aggregate runtime: 85 min, 25 sec.

This 16-part documentary is a hodgepodge of talking heads interspersed with on-set footage here and there. The segments play as follows and can be viewed individually or all at once via a Play All option:
The Beginning
Casting I: The Leads
The Look
The Kitchen
Casting II: Servers & Bartenders
The Rap
Casting III: The Newbies
The Fight
Casting IV: The Veterans
Jeff Vs, Rob
Casting V:…and Dane Cook
Last Call
During the documentary, an animated hot dog symbol will often appear on the screen, when it does, if you press enter on your remote you will be taken to a corresponding segment of an actor/crew member providing video commentary. You can read more on these features below.
Much more than on the telestrator commentary, McKittrick gets overly verbose and can go into long-winded rants about how great this actor is or how crappy that day of filming was and often loses sight of the topic at hand. This is an aspect that the producers of this doc should have taken into account. The same can be said for some of the actors involved in this feature. Jeff Balis, co-producer Dean Shull, composer David Gorgoni, production designer Devorah Herbert, cinematographer Matthew Irving and most of the principle cast provide retrospective anecdotes on the making of Waiting. Sadly, a lot of it doesn’t amount to much that’s entertaining.
Reynolds, Faris, McBride, and Guzman do not contribute interviews. In Reynolds’ case, this is particularly curious when viewing a piece involving a practical joke performed on the cast. For some very odd reason Reynolds’ face has been blurred from the on-set footage of this segment. Perhaps he didn’t find the joke all that funny.

  • “THAT LITTLE EXTRA” Producer’s Documentary (SD, 4x3) 19 minutes

Presented with eight chapter stop selections, this brisk featurette focuses more on the Behind-the-Scenes antics caught on co-producer Dean Shull’s personal DV camera. This was better than the “Works” documentary and a lot shorter too.

  • Deleted Scenes (SD, 4x3) Aggregate runtime: 7 min, 6 sec.

There are a handful of chuckles to be found in these 13 scenes that can be played individually or altogether via the Play All option.

  • Outtakes Reel (SD, 4x3/1.85:1 LTBX) Aggregate runtime: 14 min, 57 sec.

Not as much a gag reel as a collection of alternate takes used for certain highlight segments. There are 19 pieces in all and can be viewed one-at-a-time or altogether via Play All.

  • Side Dishes (HD 16x9/ SD 4x3) Aggregate Runtime approx. 75 minutes

All of the branching segments from the “Works” documentary, save one (see Easter eggs below), are available to view separately. These pieces consist of cast members providing select-scene video commentary and/or audition footage. The video commentary sections have frustratingly been altered with cheesy window graphics that obscure a lot of the on-screen action where as the DVD version showed the actors behind a simple translucent background in the left-hand corner of the screen. All of these segments can be viewed individually or via Play all in order of their menu listing:
“Alanna Ubach” (5 min, 26 sec.),
“Dane Cook” (12 min, 26 sec.),
“John Francis Daley” (5 min, 6 sec.),
“Jordan Ladd” (1 min, 18 sec.),
“Justin Long” (3 min),
“Katlin Doubleday” (3 min, 42 sec.),
“David Koechner” (10 min, 52 sec),
“Max Kasch & Andy Milonakis” (7 min, 20 sec.),
“Robert P. Benedict” (8 min, 35 sec.),
“Vanessa Lengies” (4 min 22 sec.),
“Music” (5 min, 42 sec.) features commentary from Gorgoni as well as added comments from the cast members who appeared in the rap video that plays during the film’s end credits.
“Visuals” (5 min, 57 sec.) contains commentary with Matthew Irving & Devorah Herbert.

The audition clips were very cool to observe, especially when watching certain actors reading for a different role then the one they were cast for. The video commentaries were half & half in their entertainment value. Ubach, Gorgoni, Herbert, Irving, Benedict, Ladd, and Kasch offer some nice material, the rest is irrelevant. What ever you do, stay away from Milonakis’ footage. This kid is quite possibly the most annoying, sexist, perverse being I’ve ever had the displeasure to lays ears and eyes on.

[COLOR= #ff0000]HD Bonus Content[/COLOR]

  • Director’s Introduction (HD, 16x9) 2 min, 32 sec

This extraneous feature has McKittrick informing us about the new exclusives to this Blu-Ray edition (as well as the missing features from the previous DVD). Once again the director puts his foot in his mouth, debasing the new features; to paraphrase McKittrick: “this edition was a mistake for you to purchase”. This dude needs to look up the word “tact” in the dictionary. There is a point when self-depreciation becomes downright pathetic.

  • Feature Length Audio Commentary

This all-new commentary (sans telestrator, recorded specifically for the Blu-Ray release) features McKittrick, Dean Shull, and actors Anna Faris, Robert Benedict, John Francis Daley, Andy Milonakis (ugh!), and Vanessa Lengies. This commentary could’ve been something special if the despicable Milonakis had not attended the proceedings. The fellow participants’ filmmaking recollections are constantly interrupted with the diminutive “comedian’s” disgusting jokes and uber-juvenile word turnarounds like “Blu-Gay” instead of Blu-Ray. Get it? Yuk-Yuk-Yuk. Blechhhh!

  • Going to the Movies with Rob & Andy at the Waiting Premiere (HD, 16x9) 13 min, 3 sec.

This feature (containing candid footage of the Hollywood premiere of Waiting) could have been enjoyable to watch if McKittrick & Milonakis weren’t providing incessant, trivial video commentary to the documented event. Watch this one with the sound muted, it plays better that way.

  • Theatrical Trailer (HD, 1.78:1) 2 min, 30 sec

I’m grateful that the original trailer has been included because I’m a trailer fanatic and this wasn’t included on the DVD. Even more significant is that this is the only Hi-Def example of the film’s footage that appears to have been untouched by DNR. You’ll immediately see what a difference some grain makes.

  • Bookmarks (available on both the feature film and the telestator commentary)

  • Blu-Line

This feature has been made available on many Lionsgate Blu-Rays and is quite a nifty on-screen info device. While the movie is playing, if you press up, down, left, or right on your remote a timeline readout for the film appears on the bottom of the screen and has indicator marks for chapter stops as well as marks for where you placed bookmarks (if any). Plus the Blu-Line displays the timecode and chapter title. If you hit enter while Blu-Line is on display, the image pauses, if you press left or right while the line is up it will reverse or fast-forward and if you press the blue or yellow buttons on your BD remote you can toggle between your bookmarks/chapter stops. If you don’t choose anything, the Blu-Line will vanish after 10 seconds.

  • Preview Reel (HD, 1.78:1) 10 min, 28 sec. aggregate runtime

1080p theatrical trailers for other Lionsgate Blu-Ray titles are played before the main menu upon loading the disc. The trailers in order of appearance are Crank, Employee of the Month (Trailer #1), The Invincible Iron Man, The Punisher (2004), and Lord of War.

[COLOR= #ff0000]The Cutting Room Floor[/COLOR]: What Didn’t Make the Blu-Ray?

  • SENDING IT BACK: The Real Dish on Waiting Tables

I’m very saddened that this engaging 6 minute feature got extracted for the Blu-Ray. According to McKittrick, he felt the feature “sucked a**” and opted to give us more of Milonakis waving his freak flag instead. The deleted featurette showcased a trio of waiters ironically conversing at a dining establishment and sharing their own outrageous stories of troublesome restaurant patrons and the revenge tactics that those servers applied against their contemptible clientele (not much unlike the ones performed by the Waiting characters).

  • Soundtrack Promo

This feature allowed me to listen to three 15-second songs samples from the Waiting motion picture soundtrack.

  • Trailer Reel featuring Van Wilder (Green Band trailer) and Ultimate Avengers: The Movie.

[COLOR= #ff0000]Easter Eggs[/COLOR]

I’m not sure if this is considered an Easter egg, but within the “Works” documentary (specifically the “Casting Part III: Newbies” section) one of the Side Dish video segments can only be accessed through the extended branching feature. The clip showcases a pair of entertaining audition tapes of co-star Skylar Stone trying out for the roles of Dean and Nick, respectively. This is one of the few features that I feel is a must-see. This branching clip was also on the DVD version.

[COLOR= #ff0000]Final Thoughts[/COLOR]

Waiting is a roguish testament to the modern day struggles of the working-class food server that while at times crude and unusual, elicits some big inspired laughs along the way showcasing a memorable group of assorted characters. If you’re not fan of pervasive foul language, toilet humor and frontal male nudity, this movie won’t be your cup of tea. One thing is for certain after watching Waiting: you’ll start tipping employees a whole lot better.
The Blu-Ray itself, however is very exasperating for me to recommend, especially if you already own the DVD. The new HD exclusives are a big letdown, and the missing waiter featurette is a sore absence. While the audio is a genuine upgrade from the DVD, the picture is a just not appropriate for HD standards. I can really only recommended Waiting on Blu-Ray for die-hard fans of the film and/or (God forbid) Andy Milonakis. As for everyone else, stick with the DVD version.

Edited by Big Ben - 8/3/2009 at 08:25 pm GMT
Edited by Big Ben - 8/7/2009 at 10:11 pm GMT
Edited by Big Ben - 8/7/2009 at 10:26 pm GMT

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