In the Weeds (2000)

Nikki Tranter

These moments serve no real purpose other than to let all us know all the kinds of hilarious and odd things that can happen during restaurant rush hour.

In the Weeds

Director: Michael Rauch
Cast: Joshua Leonard, Molly Ringwald, Eric Bogosian, Ellen Pompeo, Michael Buchman Silver, Sam Harris, Bridget Moynahan
MPAA rating: R
Studio: Catchlight Films
First date: 2000
US DVD Release Date: 2005-03-01
Amazon affiliate

In the Weeds, made in 2000 and just out on a bare bones DVD, is the restaurant equivalent of a slasher flick. Instead of young and pretty kids besieged by a crazy guy with a chainsaw, this movie features young and pretty waiters wrestling that scary demon called Real Life. As in slashers, each of the pretty kids here fall into specific categories -- tramp Becky (Bonnie Root), jerk Chris (J.P. Pitoc), naïve newcomer Martha (Ellen Pompeo), nice guy Adam (Joshua Leonard), vain guy Marlon, (Michael Buchman Silver), cynical veteran Chloe (Molly Ringwald). Additionally predictable, we know who's gonna end up our hero only moments after the opening credits. Routine as it is, In the Weeds, like any halfway decent slasher, offers a few significant jolts, though none is memorable.

Set during one particularly busy night in a swanky NYC restaurant, In the Weeds introduces our wait staff through a series of obvious set-ups. For instance, Becky is going down on a guy in a freezer when we first see her, character development all but taken care of in a single head bob. Over the course of the evening we observe them bitching about customers and their sad lives in general. There's no real plot here, just a series of situations that restate what we already know about these stock characters.

Chloe, for instance, reveals to Martha as she shows her around that she's been working at the restaurant for over a decade. Unlike Martha, who's studying sociology at school or Adam, a playwright, or Marlon, an actor, or even Chris, who's working to support his new family, Chloe apparently has nothing else in her life apart from her apron, and functions in the narrative only to remind Martha of what could happen if she finds herself getting too comfortable taking dinner orders. Oh, and to prove to the customers (and the viewing audience, all potential restaurant customers ourselves) that waiters are smarter and wittier than they are.

Chloe does exactly what we would expect Chloe to do throughout the film. She skillfully derides her fellow workmates and emasculates the gang of Wall Street hotties at the only table we see her working. She's not the only one with an agenda throughout In the Weeds. Nobody here ever really breaks down the generic expectations we have of their characters. The actor is never anything but arrogant, the tramp is soon caught fucking the cook, the jerky guy winds up getting folks fired, and the naïve chick impresses everyone with her wide-eyed sensitivity.

That said, the situations the crew find themselves in are occasionally funny. Marlon's confrontation with a mean customer played with suitable snippiness by Peter Riegert is one such example, as is practically every scene featuring Broadway star Sam Harris as over-the-top host, Jonathan. At times, In the Weeds even gets a little emotional, as in Martha's case, who must serve an old couple who don't say a word to each other throughout their meal. Still, these moments serve no real purpose other than to let all us know all the kinds of hilarious and odd things that can happen during restaurant rush hour (the "in the weeds" of the title).

The movie only manages to break out of its predictable mold, allowing its characters to impart meaningful waiter wisdom, when it's too late to matter. When a busboy (Rene Millan), for example, is accused of stealing, restaurant manager Simon (Eric Bogosian, writer of the superior kids-complaining-about-life flick, Suburbia), who -- surprise -- is evil and controlling, berates the poor guy in front of everyone before firing him, and moving on to berate everyone else ("Chloe," he says, "the salad days are over. This is your life!"). Adam decides to stand up for the gang, giving Simon a serve of his own: "You're my rent, you're my phone bill, maybe a Knicks game every now and again... No job is worth this."

It's glorious payback for Simon's torture, especially for Adam who has spent the night serving Simon and a business partner, enduring much ridicule throughout. But it doesn't make much difference in the long run. Even though Adam loathes his job, he's soon back on the floor. For Adam, Simon's evil is hardly rock bottom. When Marlon finds out he's lost yet another acting gig (this time for a director whose name "rhymes with Skielberg"), Adam tells him his dream is far from over: "We won't all make it," he says, "but if you quit now, if you don't give yourself the chance to really fail, and I mean fail consistently, in an epic way, like nobody else has ever failed before, then you will look back on this choice and you will regret it for the rest of your life. If I'm going down, I want lots of fire and explosions and every shred of my being spent trying."

Leonard chooses to deliver this speech with a slight smile, but the melodrama of the whole thing is still laughable. It's not at if the guys are failing at finding a cancer cure, right? What Adam is saying is that life goes on. Waiters go on waiting. And suffering. And restaurant patrons are all mean and don't tip enough. It's probably true that customers can be downright offensive to servers, but there's more to restaurant life than these clichés, surely? In the Weeds offers no real insight into life the waiter's life, simply rehashing the same old mid-20s anxieties in a seemingly random and ultimately purposeless environment.






Greta Gerwig's Adaptation of Loneliness in Louisa May Alcott's 'Little Women'

Greta Gerwig's film adaptation of Louisa May Alcott's classic novel Little Women strays from the dominating theme of existential loneliness.


The Band's Discontented Third LP, 1970's 'Stage Fright', Represented a World Braving Calamity

Released 50 years ago this month, the Band's Stage Fright remains a marker of cultural unrest not yet remedied.


Natalie Schlabs Starts Living the Lifetime Dream With "That Early Love" (premiere + interview)

Unleashing the power of love with a new single and music video premiere, Natalie Schlabs is hoping to spread the word while letting her striking voice be heard ahead of Don't Look Too Close, the full-length album she will release in October.


Rufus Wainwright Makes a Welcome Return to Pop with 'Unfollow the Rules'

Rufus Wainwright has done Judy Garland, Shakespeare, and opera, so now it's time for Rufus to rediscover Rufus on Unfollow the Rules.


Jazz's Denny Zeitlin and Trio Get Adventurous on 'Live at Mezzrow'

West Coast pianist Denny Zeitlin creates a classic and adventurous live set with his long-standing trio featuring Buster Williams and Matt Wilson on Live at Mezzrow.


The Inescapable Violence in Netflix's I'm No Longer Here (Ya no estoy aqui)

Fernando Frías de la Parra's I'm No Longer Here (Ya no estoy aqui) is part of a growing body of Latin American social realist films that show how creativity can serve a means of survival in tough circumstances.


Arlo McKinley's Confessional Country/Folk Is Superb on 'Die Midwestern'

Country/folk singer-songwriter Arlo McKinley's debut Die Midwestern marries painful honesty with solid melodies and strong arrangements.


Viserra Combine Guitar Heroics and Female Vocals on 'Siren Star'

If you ever thought 2000s hard rock needed more guitar leads and solos, Viserra have you covered with Siren Star.


Ryan Hamilton & The Harlequin Ghosts Honor Their Favorite Songs With "Oh No" (premiere)

Ryan Hamilton's "Oh No" features guest vocals from Kay Hanley of Letters to Cleo, and appears on Nowhere to Go But Everywhere out 18 September.


Songwriter Shelly Peiken Revisits "Bitch" for '2.0' Album (premiere)

A monster hit for Meredith Brooks in the late 1990s, "Bitch" gets a new lease on life from its co-creator, Shelly Peiken. "It's a bit moodier than the original but it touts the same universal message," she says.


Leila Sunier Delivers Stunning Preface to New EP via "Sober/Without" (premiere)

With influences ranging from Angel Olsen to Joni Mitchell and Perfume Genius, Leila Sunier demonstrates her compositional prowess on the new single, "Sober/Without".


Speed the Plough Members Team with Mayssa Jallad for "Rush Hour" (premiere)

Caught in a pandemic, Speed the Plough's Baumgartners turned to a faraway musical friend for a collaboration on "Rush Hour" that speaks to the strife and circumstance of our time.


Great Peacock Stares Down Mortality With "High Wind" (premiere + interview)

Southern rock's Great Peacock offer up a tune that vocalist Andrew Nelson says encompasses their upcoming LP's themes. "You are going to die one day. You can't stop the negative things life throws at you from happening. But, you can make the most of it."


The 80 Best Albums of 2015

Travel back five years ago when the release calendar was rife with stellar albums. 2015 offered such an embarrassment of musical riches, that we selected 80 albums as best of the year.


Buridan's Ass and the Problem of Free Will in John Sturges' 'The Great Escape'

Escape in John Sturge's The Great Escape is a tactical mission, a way to remain in the war despite having been taken out of it. Free Will is complicated.


The Redemption of Elton John's 'Blue Moves'

Once reviled as bloated and pretentious, Elton John's 1976 album Blue Moves, is one of his masterpieces, argues author Matthew Restall in the latest installment of the 33 1/3 series.


Whitney Take a Master Class on 'Candid'

Although covers albums are usually signs of trouble, Whitney's Candid is a surprisingly inspired release, with a song selection that's eclectic and often obscure.


King Buzzo Continues His Reign with 'Gift of Sacrifice'

King Buzzo's collaboration with Mr. Bungle/Fantômas bassist Trevor Dunn expands the sound of Buzz Osborne's solo oeuvre on Gift of Sacrifice.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.