A day in the life at chain restaurant Shenanigan’s, Waiting . . . makes a predictable pit stop to elaborately mess with a creep patron’s food but otherwise exceeds expectations by handling the real, soul-sucking fears of the double shift. What survives in a greenhouse of marathon desperation? Besides the waiters—Ryan Reynolds trying to quip away humiliation and bang the underage hostess, his desirably sluttish ex, the nice girl who gets screwed on tips, the bug-eyed chain-smoking careerist, the earnest up-and-comer-—there’s the power-struck manager and the obscene head chef (a role eaten up by Luis Guzmán). Chef saved the flagging restaurant years ago by inventing the sanity-saving Game: An employee stealthily exposes his cock and/or balls in contortions like the Goat or Batwing, hoping to catch a male co-worker looking, whom he then gets to kick in the ass. It’s a great bit, but to director Rob McKittrick’s credit, the funniest scene is also the saddest: The kitchen crew, having cleaned up, watching the clock like New Year’s, goes nuts when a couple is seated a minute before closing. This is pain.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 4, 2005