You know by the exclamation point in the title that this is a classy movie, right?! Oh, how I wish that were true. Actually, that’s not true. I did not enjoy this movie, not even for the camp factor of a raunchy comedy as only the ’80s could make ‘em. Waitress! (aka Soup to Nuts, 1981) is a film by Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Hertz of Troma Entertainment, the creators of those craptastic “Toxic Avenger” B-movie series. I remember reading a few years ago how “Toxie” keeps intoxicating Cannes (see what I did there?!). This movie even premiered at Cannes in 1981, with its American release over a year later, in September 1982 (hence the discrepancy in release dates).
My Facebook status documenting my personal reaction to this movie? “I feel violated.”
On that positive note … The plot revolves around different young women working as waitresses, including one woman trying to make it as an actress and another trying to make it as a writer in New York City. Both work at the WORST restaurant ever, which was filmed after hours at an actual restaurant in Manhattan called Marty’s (the worst advertising I can think of, really, as the sign is clearly visible throughout the restaurant scenes). The “comedy” bits include sight gags, vaudeville schtick, slapstick comedy, anything to elicit a laugh… or a groan. There are also tons of cameos and bit parts, including Chris Noth (!) and Anthony John Denison, who plays Lt. Flynn on The Closer TV series.
Almost a half-hour into the film, Jennifer (Carol Bevar), the girl who wants to be a writer, goes to the library to follow the advice of a teen magazine article on how to find guys. The narration illuminates her mission:
Remember, the mature teen goes for a man with a mind not just a body. Do some browsing at the public library. That’s where you’ll find your cosmopolitan intellectual.
She immediately heads on over to the wall o’ card catalogs, and meets a boy with a finger up his nose. (NOT kidding, see below). There’s your typical “cosmopolitan intellectual” at the library, eh? Sigh.
Jennifer starts asking him questions, which irritates the guy — until the light bulb comes on — and he asks if she’s making a pass at him. “I can’t believe it! I’ve never had a lady come up to me before!” Of course, all of this highly excitable babbling occurs right underneath the sign atop the card catalog, with “QUIET” in huge black letters (see above). He’s so loud that the other patrons start shushing him and telling him to be quiet, and we see Jennifer booking it out of there (I am on fire with the puns today!). And you guessed it… here comes the librarian, played by Lola Ross.
Librarian: Young man , you should be more quiet.
Dorky guy: I know, I’m just very happy. This young lady she just made a pass at me.
Librarian: What young lady? [puts on huge glasses handing on a lanyard and pokes his shoulder with her pencil]
Dorky guy: What do you mean what young lady? This young lady. Oh my god, I’ve lost her! Wait!
And turning in panic, the guy runs into a book cart (supplied by the librarian, no doubt), flips over it in spectacular gymnastic fashion, then runs straight into another patron. He scampers off as the librarian puts a hand to her chest. This is obviously the most excitement she’s seen in the library in a long time!
So Jennifer the wannabe writer was NOT successful in finding a cosmopolitan intellectual guy at the library. Sigh.
And Lola Ross, the actress playing the librarian — in stereotypically buttoned-up, lanyard-wearing fashion — looked so similar to the librarian in The Last American Virgin (1982) that I had to look both movies up again. Don’t they look similar at first glance, right down to the extreme winged collars?
|‘The Last American Virgin’ librarian||‘Waitress!’ librarian|
As the librarian character is used to contrast with the younger woman and to set up the slapstick comedy in this scene, I would argue she best fulfills a combination of the Spinster Librarian and Comic Relief character types. She, her lanyard, and her pencil also join the other librarians in bit part roles over in the Class IV listing of films.
Below are the opening credits, which is pretty much all you EVER need to watch from Waitress! (1981):