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    The Waiting Game

    Ready to role

    "The Waiting Game" follows a group of amorous young food-service workers who are waiting tables when what they'd really like to do is act.


    "The Waiting Game" is an affable little soap-opera about young

    Written and directed by: Ken Liotti.
    Cast: Will Arnett, Dwight Ewell, Eddie Malavarca, Terumi Matthews, Michael Raynor, Daniel Riordan, Taylor Stanley.
    restaurant workers in Manhattan, some of them actors waiting for their big

    break, others just regular folks coping with the complications of a

    soap-opera life.

    One of the movie's subplots works nicely. It's the story of a big

    meaty Fabio/Depardieu type (Daniel Riordan) whose grip on sanity is in peril if he doesn't — in spite of his apparently limited talent — get an acting part and

    make it out of the table-waiting business before his customers push him

    over the brink.

    Other than that, we have relationship crises galore, none of them all that intriguing. There's an aspiring actor (Will Arnett) at the center of the film whose girlfriend wants him to give up theater and get a real job; we're told he can't tear himself away from acting, but there's little evidence in the story to back that up. He does wait in line for an audition, but aside from that he's much more concerned with his love life. There's an actress (Terumi Matthews) hired by a jealous girlfriend to test her fiance's fidelity — which seems like a premise with promise, but how many ways can it turn out? And there's a young fellow (Eddie Malavarca) with a bedroom problem who, rather than just take two Viagra and forget about it, decides to use his one gay co-worker to test his sexuality. This is a shame because it reduces actor Dwight Ewell — who had a much better roles in "Chasing Amy" and Hal Hartley's "Flirt" — to a piece of sexual-preference pH paper for another character. Despite first-rate acting by the whole cast, these stories are pretty ordinary stuff and tell us little about the actor-waiter's ordeal that's supposed to be the heart of the film.

    The Waiting Game  
    There are still a few highlights in "The Waiting Game," the funniest being a presentation of the worst but most sincere one-man show in New York. Having stuck in this knife, writer-director Ken Liotti gives it a wicked twist in the following scene, as the ensemble waits outside the theater to painfully "congratulate" the actor. (In exactly this kind of situation, someone I know once decided she couldn't go wrong by saying, "I'm really glad I came." Somehow it went wrong.) A whole movie this perceptively funny would have been a guilty pleasure to watch.

    OCTOBER 13, 1999

    Reader comments on The Waiting Game:

  • The Waiting Game   from Chaz, Nov 29, 2000

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