Jenna is a small town waitress whose pies, new recipes for pies, dreams of pies and hopes of winning prizes for her pies are the only things that buoy her through an otherwise dreary life with an abusive husband and fairly dim future. An unexpected pregnancy turns her life on its head and lets her start to see beyond herself and paves her way for something better.
A romantic comedy with the heart of a drama, this is a hard movie to pin down. It wants to be a romantic comedy and Jenna’s (Keri Russell) affair with her new doctor (Nathan Fillion) offers plenty of light moments. Her co-workers at the diner bring in some good laughs as well, especially the grumpy cook (Lew Temple) who stands out in his few lines. Her constant daydreams about pies and breaking down her life into new pie recipes also keeps the mood light and bring into focus exactly what she’s thinking, providing a unique approach to her inner monologue. But in the end, it’s hard to get too comedic with a story about an abused woman going through an unwanted pregnancy and sharing her thoughts with her friends, one of whom is having her own affair because she’s become disconnected from her own invalid husband.
The subject matter leads to some awkward moments. Nathan Fillion handles a lot of it well as he has somehow become the archetype for awkward charm. His motivations in this film, though, are lacking and ultimately his performance is wasted on a character that we don’t really understand. Most of the other performances are solid as well. Jeremy Sisto is a bit soft as the abusive husband and Andy Griffith threatens at various times to steal the show as the diner owner, but both do what they’re supposed to do in driving the story.
This is a cute movie that blends a dim life with a fantasy feel a la “Edward Scissorhands”. The sets and costumes are overly vibrant, everything has a sort of soft feel to it and everything works together to make the movie less about her miserable life and more about the hopefulness that she never realized she had. In the end, when she reaches down and finds the courage to pursue something better, that’s when the film goes into full-on Oz-style technicolor, as if showing that while the darkness may come before, it’s brightest AFTER the new dawn.