By Jeremy Mathews | January 23, 2007

Things aren’t looking good for the best pie-baker in town. Being pregnant only means one thing: She’s tied down and therefore unable to run away from her rotten life and unbearable husband. Adrienne Shelly’s film is a fun but sincere exploration of this conundrum, full of off-kilter characters who don’t talk like anyone in real life, but sound a truthful chord.

Jenna (Keri Russell) has just discovered that the one night she got drunk and had sex with her husband, Earl (Jeremy Sisto), was enough to get her pregnant. She makes no effort to pretend that she is looking forward her baby or that she likes Earl, a mean, controlling and selfish man. When he learns of the pregnancy, the first thing he does is make her promise that she won’t love the baby more than she loves him.

Known among friends as a maker of delicious pies with odd flavor combinations and strange names (i.e. “bad baby pie”) at Joe’s Pie Diner, where she also waits tables, Jenna dreams of escaping her current life. Earl won’t get her a car or let her travel to a pie competition because he’s afraid she’ll run away. And that fear is a founded one—nothing would please her more than to be rid of the jerk forever.

Nathan Fillion plays Dr. Pomatter, her married GYN-OB, who doesn’t hold any of the keys to Jenna’s escape, but offers a rare bit of care and attention. Fillion and Russell have a great rapport as Jenna’s unusual bluntness intermingles with Dr. Pomatter’s neurotic conversational stumbles. They provide a large portion of the film’s charm.

The restaurant is filled with the usual collection of eccentric characters, including Andy Griffith as its grumpy, picky and wise owner, whom only Jenna can stand to serve. Cheryl Hines and Shelly—who was murdered during the film’s completion—play the fellow waitresses, both of whom have their own troubles in love, but make clear that they wouldn’t want to trade places with Jenna, even if they could make those delicious pies. It would all be a bit too much, if the film wasn’t so much fun.

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