Some may ask what's the point? I, on the other hand, love movies that just show you a moment in people's lives. It's real life but it's not real life. Things happen, but nothing really changes. Life makes for an awful playmate, but you just have to keep on keeping on. In the Weeds shows you one night in the life of a restaurant staff working at a swanky New York restaurant. For me, the big appeal was a cast including Joshua Leonard (of Blair Witch fame) and 80s icon Molly Ringwald. I didn't really know if the movie would be any good, but I have to say I was quite impressed by it (and the entire cast is excellent).
I think most of us know what it is like to work at an unfulfilling job and wonder if our dreams will ever come true; at some point, you have to face the fact that all of your big plans for the future may never happen - that's when you truly become an adult, and the way you deal with that realization determines what kind of an adult you are going to be. Will you keep fighting or just give up? Among the restaurant staff in this little passion play of a movie are an aspiring playwright, a couple of aspiring actors (one of whom went to Julliard), a cynical thirty-something, an angelic rookie/social worker - and of course a tramp, an illegal alien or two, and a sadistic cook (if Eminem were a cook, he would be this guy). The manager (Sam Harris) is a somewhat high-strung, quirky fellow who's really a good guy, but the owner (Eric Bogosian) is an uncaring monster - and he just so happens to be entertaining a client in the restaurant tonight. Adam (Joshua Leonard), our aspiring playwright and all-around good guy, has the "honor" of working that table, and it's an ordeal and a half. Other customers include a group of shallow rich guys who apparently use a testosterone cologne, a silent old couple who our angelic rookie tries to help communicate (needlessly), and a man planning to pop the question to his girlfriend. The act of putting a ring inside a dessert may be romantic, but it does lend itself to some logistical problems. Here, such problems bring a night of tension to an ugly head.
When things really start spiraling out of control, thanks largely to the hateful owner, everyone deals with the different little crises the only way he/she knows how - the new girl Martha (Ellen Pompeo) radiates goodness and understanding, the arrogant actor/waiter continues to play his part, Chloe (Molly Ringwald) maintains her cynical demeanor, the cook makes awful threats against anyone and everyone, and Adam just tries to deal with everything in his obsessive little way (and takes numerous cigarette breaks). Eventually, the night comes to an end, as does the movie. As crazy as the whole night was, it was basically just another night. Life goes on; there's no fairy tale ending, and none of these characters has really been changed at all by the night's events. All that you are left with is an understanding of the bond that unites all of these very different people.
Although it is just now being released on DVD in 2005, In the Weeds actually dates back to 2000. A film like this won't pack people into theatres, but it's a really good film. It doesn't impart any answers to life's big questions, but there really aren't any answers in real life, either. It's cliché in many ways, but so is life. Some critics said they failed to connect with any of these characters, but my experience was quite the opposite. In the Weeds just takes us through one night in the lives of this one group of people, and it makes for an interesting character study, if nothing else. Personally, I really enjoyed this movie.