By Heather Leszczewicz Special to Published May 23, 2007 at 5:15 AM

Sadly, "Waitress" director, writer and star Adrienne Shelly was murdered before her movie ever made it to the big screen. But the movie is not one that should be surrounded by mourning. "Waitress" is a testament to Shelly's talent.

In a small side-of-the-road pie shop, Jenna (Keri Russell) waits tables and bakes pies daily, but she wants more out of life. The pies she makes are an outlet for the creativity she can't express in her every day life. She's stuck with her jealous husband Earl (Jeremy Sisto), who doesn't appreciate her. He keeps her on a tight leash, trying to control her through intimidation and lack of freedom. She wants out of this life.

But, much to her dismay, Earl has wrecked her dreams again. A bout of morning sickness tips her off to the fact that she's pregnant. That one night that Earl got her drunk has added nine more months trapped just as she was about to skip town.

She goes to the doctor just to be sure, but even a simple appointment isn't pleasant. The town has a new doctor, Dr. Pomatter (Nathanial Fillion), and he's more interested in Jenna as a woman than a patient. Although she was tentative at first, Jenna starts falling for him too.

Her baby began life as something that she never wanted, but what started as a mistake, develops into the beginning of the end to Jenna's unhappy life and the gateway to the strength she never knew she possessed.

If "Waitress" was a slice of one of Jenna's pies, it would be a decadent, but not too rich. Shelly knew how to tell a story that seemed real while still being quirky and witty. Although it seems similar to "The Good Girl," starring Jennifer Aniston, "Waitress" comes into its own.

At times it's achingly heartbreaking and other moments the biting wit will have the audience laughing out loud. These reactions are primarily because of the empathy people have to feel towards Jenna. Her life is anything but perfect; anyone would be clawing their way to freedom.

Russell, best known for the title role in TV show "Felicity," takes to the leading role well. It's as if Shelly wrote the role specifically for the teen drama alumna. Into Jenna, Russell brings the right amount of sadness and shock for a woman in her situation.

The supporting roles are no bit parts and each actor gets his moment to shine.

As Jenna's best friends, Cheryl Hines and Shelly (as Becky and Dawn) make girl talk and a work environment both fun and odd. Hines works the Southern accent and has some hilarious lines involving her lopsided breasts. Shelly's character was best when she was dealing with an obsessive blind date, Ogie (Eddie Jemison), that would come up with sometimes horrifically embarrassing impromptu poetry about her.

Fillion, as Dr. Pomatter, is a winning actor, although his luck with TV shows isn't great. Any woman would be a little put off by his character, especially since he's a strange man taking over and OB/GYN practice. His personality is nothing short of odd, but contagiously loveable, it's no wonder Jenna falls for him.

"Waitress" becomes a story more than just an underdog or unhappy woman's tale. It's a movie that shows a woman coming into her own and beginning to live the life she was meant to have. It's bittersweet, but "Waitress" is reflective of Shelly's own life. She was only beginning to reach the success that she deserved, while Jenna was able to finalize her own move in quite an inspiring way.

Heather Leszczewicz Special to

Originally from Des Plaines, Ill., Heather moved to Milwaukee to earn a B.A. in journalism from Marquette University. With a tongue-twisting last name like Leszczewicz, it's best to go into a career where people don't need to say your name often.

However, she's still sticking to some of her Illinoisan ways (she won't reform when it comes to things like pop, water fountain or ATM), though she's grown to enjoy her time in the Brew City.

Although her journalism career is still budding, Heather has had the chance for some once-in-a-lifetime interviews with celebrities like actor Vince Vaughn and actress Charlize Theron, director Cameron Crowe and singers Ben Kweller and Isaac Hanson of '90s brother boy band Hanson. 

Heather's a self-proclaimed workaholic but loves her entertainment. She's a real television and movie fanatic, book nerd, music junkie, coffee addict and pop culture aficionado.