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Still waiting for some laughs in this restaurant

Just when two crashers and an overdue virgin made theaters safe again for smut, along comes Waiting to remind everyone why R-rated comedy got a bad name.

Rob McKittrick's movie about inhospitable hospitality workers looks cheap and plays the audience cheaper with a script cribbed from bathroom walls. Not a single character is likable and each joke is gross and mean-spirited, so relating to anyone is impossible. That is, unless you actually work at a restaurant populated with people like this, in which case, your laughter makes me queasy about dining out any time soon.

Like Clerks and Car Wash, Waiting throws a work crew together for one eventful day among people whose jobs make them peripheral in most lives. Unlike those earlier films, Waiting isn't fun to sit through. How many times do we need to see food dropped on a greasy floor or purposely contaminated then served? A comedy is in trouble when much of the first 10 minutes is devoted to setting up a running homophobic joke about flashing genitals at co-workers.

I'll confess to laughing a few times in that first 10 minutes. Shock is a fast way to anyone's funny bone. But it quickly becomes evident that's all McKittrick has on the menu. As the ringleader Monty, Ryan Reynolds' poker-faced mock superiority routine gets old; he doesn't get the loser side of this type of role where humor awaits. Just ask rush chairman Eric Stratton.

Monty's "zany" co-workers are either shrill (Alanna Ubach's angry server), skirting the law (Monty and David Koechner's manager role hitting on a minor) or dull (Justin Long as the obligatory guy who wants something better than this). Luis Guzman's decision to play a horny, unsanitary cook is baffling, and Chi McBride simply rips off Isaac Hayes' sage Chef from South Park.

The differences between Waiting and the summer hits Wedding Crashers and The 40-Year-Old Virgin are plenty, but attitude is the key. We can handle anything a prankster like McKittrick can dish out, if he doesn't treat us like the customer in Waiting who sends an undercooked steak back to the kitchen. He thinks comedy is all bodily fluids and cruel gutter talk, while those other films made smut seem fairly sophisticated. They had heart; McKittrick's movie only has a crotch.

REVIEW

Waiting

Grade: F

Director: Rob McKittrick

Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Luis Guzman, Justin Long, Anna Faris, David Koechner, Chi McBride, John Francis Daley

Screenplay: Rob McKittrick

Rating: R; pervasive crude humor, harsh profanity and sexual content

Running time: 96 min.

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