There are a lot of independent features that are making the rounds out there these days. They vary in budget, cast caliber (as far as stars vs unknowns are concerned, not acting ability), how they’re shot, and subject matter. Mike Vogel’s first feature THE WAITING LIST is one of those few independent movies where, as I sit here writing this review, I literally cannot think of a bad thing to say about it. So instead I’ll speak about what this movie does right, and the cues other filmmakers should take note of that may help them with their future productions.
THE WAITING LIST stars an ensemble cast who all come together for a sleepover at a prestigious preschool where they are all vying for spots to get their children enrolled. Basically the way it works is, if you leave, you give up your spot on the full list and are then moved to the bottom of the waiting list (hence the title). The cast is a mixed bag of first-timers, and vets from both the TV and film industry. Even those who are in their first feature (Amanda Englund, Lily Lam, and Kyle Walker) hold their own very well against their more experienced castmates. The cast always seems very in sync with each other and bounce off one another easily.
One of the movie’s strong points is the script. Very rarely can a writer mix good comedy in with everyday conversation without making the funny seem forced. Vogel does this well by providing short bursts of unconventional humor from his go-to character Chris. All of the “parents” in this film speak freely and like adults about the subject of parenthood and raising children, and while I can’t relate to this on a personal level, several of my friends and family have children and the experiences they have are very similar. The script is engaging without being preachy, and the entire cast really has a chance to shine without just giving the juicy bits to a couple of leads like some films do.
The film is shot cleanly, has really entertaining scene segues that mix well with a great soundtrack. There is a lot about this film that does not feel indie at all. Most, if not all of the shots have a very polished Hollywood feel to them with traditional shots throughout while still fitting in the occasional artsy shot in an exterior (the breaking dawn sequence looked pretty cool, but to me didn’t fit in 100% with the overall theme of the movie…Hey, I DID find something negative to say…kinda!)
I certainly compliment the director on this project. Regardless of the budget, the money in this film was well spent and by the look of it, it all went onto the screen, which is where it belongs. I look forward to Mike Vogel’s next project. He proves that sometimes a mix of traditional and unconventional can make an indie movie really pop out from the crowd.
THE WAITING LIST Review
FILM SYNOPSIS - A foul-mouthed, sex-obsessed, back-stabbing comedy about preschool enrollment.