In recent cinematic history, working-class audiences have seen themselves represented by the pissed-off pencil pushers in “Office Space,” the cranky counter staff from “Clerks” and the chatty caddies of “Caddyshack.” If raunch-appreciating actors Ryan Reynolds, Justin Long, Andy Milonakis and Dane Cook have anything to say about it, the health-code-hating staff of Shenanigans restaurant will soon be listed among those hallowed ranks.
“Anyone that has worked in the restaurant industry, or the hospitality industry for that matter, will definitely relate to some of the aspects of this movie,” Reynolds, the star of “Waiting,” recently insisted. “It’s a tough industry and it’s a tough job, and they’re going to see it in the film.”
“I waited tables for about a year; I was terrible at it,” remembered Long, who is, as it turns out, the most accomplished server in the Shenanigans gang. “The only thing that I could have done to be a worse waiter would be to actually have like peed in front of people, like on them while they were trying to eat. It was at that level.”
“I worked as a busboy in real life. I have some calluses that are not just from snacking at the actors’ craft service table,” laughed Reynolds, flashing his trademark “Van Wilder” smirk. “The busboys are definitely at the bottom of the food chain. They get fractioned tips, so that’s a tough gig to have.”
It’s no major revelation that many Hollywood actors have spent time hocking side salads and honing their monologue skills on the daily specials. Outrageous comedian Milonakis said the job made him hate, well, everybody. “I used to be a real busboy, a real bad busboy. It was a horrible job, it was awful,” said the star of “The Andy Milonakis Show.” “You are just constantly cleaning stuff up; you don’t get to bring out big plates of nice food. You get to take it away when it’s all chewed up by some idiot.”
Laughing, he concluded: “Anyone who eats food is an idiot.”
To protect their tips, the (hopefully) fictionalized workers of “Waiting” resist calling their customers such names and instead channel their aggressions into garnishing food with dandruff, phlegm and various other top-secret kitchen concoctions. These waiters may take your order, but they won’t take your attitude. Such health-code violations, however, pale in comparison to their behind-the-scenes policies on, um, the handling of meat.
When asked to explain “the game,” a time-passing activity pursued by the restaurant wait staff, Dane Cook didn’t know where to begin. “You’ve just gotta see the movie. If you wanna know about ‘the game,’ come check out what we’re doing.”
“Oh God, ‘the game,’ ” said Reynolds, shaking his head from side to side. “From what I remember, it’s just a really disgusting exercise in homophobic futility … I cannot even believe it made it into this movie. It’s disgusting.”
“Pee-pees and vajay-jays,” Milonakis laughed. “Mind your pees and vees.”
Explaining the NC-17 pastime in the most PG-phrasing possible, “the game” involves employees exposing various segments of their genitalia and tricking each other into catching an unpleasant glimpse. Varying by the difficulty level of the move, the exposer is then awarded a number of kicks to the victim’s rear end.
“The batwing makes me laugh,” Cook said when asked to name his favorite move, one with so much stretching that it would make a long-distance runner cringe. “That’s what Luis Guzmán’s character gets me with.”
Trailing off like a shell-shocked war veteran, the underground standup named off a few other particularly innovative moves: ” ‘The Paula Abdul,’ which I think was cut, ‘the rump roast,’ ‘the fiery chicken’ — it’s just a godawful thing.”
Naturally, the sport took off on both sides of the camera. “Gladys Henson,” Milonakis laughed when asked which real-life actor was the best real-life player. “She’s like this 76-year-old extra and she was like, ‘the brains,’ ” he said, mimicking her exposure incredulously. “And I’m like, ‘What? You can’t do ‘the brains’!
“And, oh wait, she could.”
“I don’t know where this is coming from; I’ve never played ‘the game,’ ” insisted a straight-faced Reynolds. “I did hear rumblings that some of those guys were out there, you know, flashing their gear. Whatever turns your crank, that’s what I say.”
“I don’t know if we ever did behind-the-scenes stuff,” Long agreed. “We would always show each other our genitals, but we wouldn’t make a game about it. It was more like, ‘Hey, what’s up? Here I am.’ ”
“I did as many takes as I could, naked from the waist down,” Long continued. “If I was framed from anywhere above the waist, I would always just like to hang it out.”
If you haven’t already figured it out, “Waiting” contains the type of irreverent comedy that can only come about when outrageous comedians are taken off their leashes. The plot? Nonexistent. Character depth? Nowhere to be found. But first-time writer/director Rob McKittrick — a former waiter who used his tips to help finance the movie — knew that if the jokes hit hard, the gross-outs made people cringe and the working-class characters were identifiable, audiences would connect. In the end, at least one thing does seem certain: No one who sees “Waiting” will ever give their Applebee’s waiter another bad tip.
“I certainly hope so,” Reynolds said. “The hospitality industry … is a really dysfunctional, one-way relationship [for] the server, and I hope people can see that and maybe extend a little more kindness to those waiters and waitresses because that’s what they live off of: tips.”
“If we’re going to learn anything,” Dane Cook imparted, “if there is a moral to this film ‘Waiting’ … it is do not mess [with your waiter].
“Be polite,” he advised casual-dining patrons everywhere. “Bring gifts.”
Check out everything we’ve got on “Waiting.”
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