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dir-scr Rob McKittrick|
with Ryan Reynolds, Anna Faris, Justin Long, John Francis Daley, Alanna Ubach, David Koechner, Luis Guzmán, Chi McBride, Kaitlin Doubleday, Robert Patrick Benedict, Vanessa Lengies, Dane Cook
release US 7.Oct.05, UK 19.May.06
05/US Lions Gate 1h34
Have a nice day: Long and Reynolds
For what's essentially a raucous, gross-out comedy, this is a surprisingly tame film. While writer-director McKittrick indulges in plenty of outrageous antics, he plays it fairly straight as a filmmaker, refusing to take any real risks.
On his first day as a trainee, Mitch (Daley) tags along with wiseguy waiter Monty (Reynolds), who teaches him the secrets of the trade, including how to get even with vile customers and how to play pranks on coworkers. This involves doing unspeakable things to food and flashing genitalia, respectively. Their colleagues include the worried Dean (Long), sassy Serena (Faris), angry Naomi (Ubach), befuddled Amy (Doubleday), self-doubting Calvin (Benedict), a jailbait hostess (Lengies), two rude chefs (Guzman and Cook) and a therapist-dishwasher (McBride).
The cast is up for anything, and they dive into their characters, clearly enjoying the chance to be as raunchy and vulgar as an R-rating will allow. But audiences looking for There's Something About Mary excess will be frustrated by the way McKittrick continually steps back just when things get truly nasty, almost like he's directing a network-TV movie with cable-TV dialog.
At the centre, Reynolds gives another of his goofy, eye-popping performances, again catching his character's insecurities underneath the raging bravado. Although this just makes us wish he'd stop making these dim-witted movies and put his skills and screen presence to use in something good for a change. The normally hilarious Faris is also rather wasted, with no storyline to speak of. At least Ubach gets a hysterically funny character to play. But subplots are limited to the boys--Long's hangdog soul-searching, Koechner's dorky boss, Benedict's inability to use a public restroom, Guzman's relentless efforts to flash everyone else.
It's efficiently filmed, and energetic enough to keep us laughing. Some scenes are uproariously funny, while others are a bit lame. McKittrick seems happy to rely on obvious gags, which keeps the film from being a truly memorable comedy. But there's also a strong feeling that this is closer to what it's like working in a restaurant than anyone would like to admit. And it'll make you think twice before you abuse your waiting staff.
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© 2006 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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