Impossible though it is to watch Adrienne Shelly's posthumously released comedy without thinking of the actress-writer-director's gruesome murder last November (the indie stalwart was killed by a construction worker in her New York office), it's unclear what kind of notices Waitress would have received had she not died such an appalling death. In the long run, Shelly will probably be remembered more as Hal Hartley's beautiful muse in Trust and The Unbelievable Truth than as the filmmaker who, while pregnant with her daughter, dreamed up this amiable confection about maternal ambivalence and female liberation. Shelly has the kind of seraphic face -- part baby, part siren -- that you can't imagine turning 40. Yet here she is, unselfishly sidelined, along with a game Cheryl Hines, as a dimbulb-waitress sidekick to the main attraction: Keri Russell as a reluctantly pregnant piemaker wavering between an abusive husband (a very good Jeremy Sisto) and her married gynecologist (Nathan Fillion) while taking sage counsel from a grumpy old geezer with soft innards, played by none other than Andy Griffith. Washed in a honeyed 1950s glow, Waitress has a mildly puckish way with outlandish baked goods and pert dialogue, but the movie is memorable largely for the contrast between its innocent sweetness and the savagery of its maker's premature death.
Adrienne ShellyKeri Russell, Nathan Fillion, Cheryl Hines, Adrienne Shelly, Eddie Jemison, Jeremy Sisto, Andy Griffith, Lew Temple, Nathan DeanAdrienne ShellyMichael RoiffFox Searchlight Pictures