Van Wilder left under the heat lamp too long, this minimum-wage cri de coeur purports to be a chain-eatery confidential: young, oppressed, and horny staff, icky management, worse customers. It's set in an edge-city restaurant called Shenanigan's (read Applebee's or TGI Friday's or Bennigan's) where the employees finish each thankless day with an all-night party at the communal crash-pad ruled, like the restaurant, by über-waiter Monty (Ryan Reynolds, aka Van Wilder). New kid Dean (Justin Long) is torn between his licentious mentor (who's got a thing for high-school chicks) and his mother's hints that he should go back to college, earn a degree, and get a real job. Tossed into the blue- collar salad bowl are the hot waitress (UW grad Anna Faris from the Scary Movie franchise), the cook (Luis Guzman) who orchestrates a dick-flashing contest, and various other profiles in deep-fried discontent.
Since there's a new DVD version of Office Space coming Nov. 1, the theme of strip-mall desperation can be better plumbed in Jennifer Aniston's humiliating flair-quest at Chotchkies than here. Writer-director Rob McKittrick wants Waiting . . . to be that film, or Clerks, or Car Wash, or Boogie Nights, or Dazed and Confused. Sorry, but only when the Blockbuster burns down will it substitute as an entrée. I've seen better Sizzler ads on TV. Reynolds actually has a bit of rude charm in the 24-hour time frame, and his "I'm all about low expectations" mantra pretty much defines Waiting . . . . The final word is left to Shenanigan's arch-loser manager (veteran character actor David Koechner from Anchorman), who opines, "The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little extra!" Here, too. (R)