Allegedly a feature film, Caffeine is closer in tone and spirit to a 90-minute sitcom pilot, with its no-stakes relationship crises, strictly-for-laughs supporting players and peppy, robotic score that seemingly emanates from one of those Yamaha keyboard guitars we all got for our seventh birthday. The setting is an English lunch spot, where plate-slinger Vanessa (Mena Suvari) spars with co-workers, acts frustrated by life and tries in vain to pronounce the word "row" in believable British. Suvari's attempts at the Queen's English provide the bulk of the film's humor, while the intended laughs are mostly packaged into sketches, including one where a lunching boyfriend discovers his girlfriend is in porn -- don't you hate it when that's revealed over a tuna san? -- and begins a yelling fit that gets him booted out. Bit concluded, the film returns to its character plotlettes, then segues into another bit, and so on, until we finally reach a musical closing credit sequence so unabashedly awful that watching it will cause your face to melt off like those Nazis in Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Slaving away in the pristine, mostly foodless kitchen alongside Vanessa is Rachel, (Marsha Thomason) a character who suffers from an absurd inferiority complex that causes her to believe she'll be "letting everyone down" once she moves on, in the near future, to a better job than short-order cook. After lending an ear, Vanessa tells her "quite frankly, I think you deserve something more." Gee, thanks Vanessa -- if only you had been my guidance counselor. Rounding out the main-character quartet is the insufferable Breckin Meyer, playing a kitchen drone/aspiring writer who smokes his cigarettes like a twelfth grader and Mark Pellegrino, a William Forsythe-lookalike who plays a five-alarm gay character who is forever planting his hands on his hips and leading with his chin, as if director John Cosgrove thought exaggerated gay mannerisms alone were comedy gold. Add to this two sensitive stoner characters, each a kind of toxic smelting of Zach Braff and Ashton Kutcher, who alternate between doing hits in the diner bathroom and talking women troubles at their seemingly permanent lunch table.