In 'Waitress,' Keri Russell serves up laughs and tears; a child prodigy tickles the ivories in 'Vitus.'
In this quirky story, Keri Russell plays Jenna, a young waitress – and a masterful pastry chef – at Old Joe's Pie Diner. Yet it's her delectable pies that are the film's true stars: There's "bad baby pie," with brie, ham, and eggs, for when Jenna discovers she's gotten pregnant by her tyrannical husband (Jeremy Sisto); "falling in love chocolate pie" for a friend's first date; and for the obstetrician she is having an affair with, a "naughty pumpkin pie." Lovely as it is to watch Jenna fill pie crusts with luscious chocolates and bright custards, the movie's eccentricity can border on caricature, its tone seemingly at odds with Jenna's ambivalent journey into motherhood. Still, when "Waitress" was released, critics called it writer and director Adrienne Shelly's breakout film. Shelley – who also plays Dawn, Jenna's adorable friend and fellow waitress – was tragically murdered shortly before the film was first screened at Sundance. Extras include a tribute to Shelly. Grade:
In one of the best scenes in "Vitus," the best Swiss import since Toblerone, Helen and Leo von Holzen enjoin their 6-year-old son to play the piano at a party for Leo's bosses. The guests crowd around Vitus (l.), expecting nothing more than a rendition of "Chopsticks," perhaps, and the child, bristling at his parents' demands, plays dumb, fingers fumbling over the ivories. But something in him snaps at the adult condescension. His fingers switch from slur to blur in a virtuoso display of technique. In that moment of adulation, a stage mom is born. Vitus, of course, yearns for a normal upbringing, something only his kindly grandfather understands. Utterly delightful, this child-prodigy tale sidesteps familiar tropes with its plot twists. Grade: