Starring: James Lafferty, Danny Glover, Julie Gonzalo
Director: Eshom Nelms, Ian Nelms
Running Time: 86 mins
Waffle Street is an American film about the true story of a financier who, after being fired from a hedge fund during the 2008 financial crisis, took up a job at a local waffle shop.
This film is a bit of a mixed bag. On the one hand, it’s a pretty amazing true story, and one that’s told in an interesting fashion, complete with good humour throughout, making for a decently enjoyable watch. However, there’s too much about Waffle Street that feels very wooden, from the performances to the drama and more, meaning that although it’s an interesting story, it’s not one that you’ll ever feel any real passion for.
Let’s start with the positives, however, with the story itself. The absolute antithesis to the likes of The Wolf Of Wall Street and The Big Short, this film follows a banker who, after discovering his wrongdoing during the years leading up to the financial crisis, decided to go back to basics and work an honest living, taking up a job in a local waffle shop, serving customers and washing dishes.
It’s amazing to think that it’s a true story, and it’s portrayed as such really well, with the historical context laid out brilliantly from the beginning, and our main man’s sense of guilt used perfectly as a driving factor for his actions right the way through, making for a properly interesting watch from start to finish.
What’s more is that the film does well to bring some levity to proceedings, with a little bit of light humour used to make his return back to basics seem a little sweeter, returning from a vicious world of lies and deceit to an honest place filled with laughs and smiles. It sounds cheesy, and it probably isn’t as on the nose as I’ve written just then, but it’s a lovely touch that makes the film a lot more enjoyable than you’d expect.
However, the biggest problem with this film is that, for all the intrigue and entertainment its true-life story provides, it all still feels a little wooden, something that really takes away from the potential for a genuinely delightful and sweet piece.
From the start, lead actor James Lafferty really isn’t that exceptional, with somewhat of a pedestrian performance that works when he plays a banker, but not when he’s portraying a more heartfelt, down-to-earth sort of guy. It’s a shame, because that’s exactly what the character is, but he just doesn’t manage to pull it off, meaning that it’s difficult to really care for him in the way that the story needs you to.
The supporting actors also don’t do all that much to impress, with only Danny Glover bringing a little bit of spark and joy to proceedings, and the likes of Julie Gonzalo, who plays the wife of our main man, failing to bring any strong emotional drama that would be necessary given her character’s motivations throughout.
Furthermore, while the reason for the main character wanting to do the things he does in this film is convincing, it isn’t quite enough to really justify some of the lengths that he goes to throughout. Again, it’s a true story, so things can’t be changed, but I felt that the way his work ethic was portrayed in this film was the biggest issue, given he’s such an overly diligent and ambitious sort of person, to the point that you don’t really believe it.
Overall, I liked parts of Waffle Street. An interesting and different true story with good humour, it’s an enjoyable watch at times, but it’s still a rather wooden and frustrating piece, failing to deliver the emotion necessary to make it a properly riveting watch, and that’s why I’m giving it a 6.8.