First, apologies to Angry Pregnant Lawyer. She's not the first to be angry or pregnant, and I'm pretty sure I've done nothing to make her either, but it's her identity and I'm stepping on it.
Compared to others, I was a little late in getting to see a sneak preview of Waitress. Its studio, Fox Searchlight, sent prints to at least 50 cities, with some cities showing the film on as many as 4 different dates. All I had to do is RSVP for a Las Vegas showing and print my confirmation to get in. (Live in a big city and missed it? Maybe you should start paying attention to my Advanced Screenings Guide.)
A pair of bloggers got to see the movie before me: And She Was... reviewed it positively, The Columnist Manifesto more negatively. And I fell somewhere in between. I think the film has some truly inspired comical moments, and comes across as a fairy tale lovingly crafted by late director Adrienne Shelly. But many of those moments are used in the excellent trailer, so the movie's laughs seem few and far between by comparison.
Jenna (Keri Russell) is a waitress in a pie shop and a wife in an emotionally abusive marriage; she discovers she's pregnant and considers it a setback to her plans for independence. Her character is defined loosely through her internal actions, imagining pies that reflect her moods (shades of Like Water for Chocolate) and narrating her dismay in letters to her unborn child (similar to those "Dear Ndugu" moments in About Schmidt).
Shelly mines familiar territory, but I really didn't mind. I think creating a cast of stock characters was kind of the point. In addition to the unhappy waitress, you have the husband from hell (Jeremy Sisto), the wallflower (Shelly), the woman of experience (Cheryl Hines), the dreamy doctor (Nathan Fillion), and the kind curmudgeon (Andy Griffith).
The plot seems intentionally slight, focusing mostly on Jenna's development after an unhealthy tryst with her OB-GYN and her eventual acceptance of her baby. No grand ethical dilemmas or medical trauma; Shelly's last film keeps it simple.