After Sideways and now Bottle Shock, it’s official: I love wine as much as I hate movies about people who love wine. Advertisements for Napa Valley wine country, both films are also about the elitist habits of people who sniff and swirl wine and who enjoy talking at length about grapes and equating them to great art. Less solipsistic than Sideways, Bottle Shock is still more off-putting, not least of which because Randall Miller has directed the film as if it were a sequel to his Marilyn Hotchkiss Ballroom Dancing & Charm School, pulling away and pushing toward his actors and the cars they drive as if possessed by Michael Bay, cutting scenes together as if the subject here was absinthe and not grapes. “Taste that wine,” says Gustavo (Freddy Rodríguez), relishing the wine he’s been cultivating on the side while working for Chateau Montelena owner Jim Barrett (perpetual hambone Bill Pullman), and as the taste brings tears to Gustavo’s eyes, and to those of the Maria Callas-loving Mr. Garcia (Miguel Sandoval), you’d think E.T. was finally phoning home from the music on the soundtrack. Overzealously edited and composed, the film is almost palatable when it doesn’t distract itself with the mating habits of its three young leads and Jim’s literally pugilistic relationship to his son Bo (Chris Pine), clumsy plot points rooted in cliché and left mostly unresolved, and focuses on Gustavo declaiming his reasons for wanting to grow wine for the father who never could. It’s almost as if the film wanted to provide an affront to the insular and pretentious habits of wine drinkers, a point somewhat supported by a funny scene in which a British wine snob played by Alan Rickman savors (ostensibly for the first time) a piece of Kentucky Fried Chicken, but whatever goodwill the film musters is squandered as it builds toward Chateau Montelena’s victory at the Judgment of Paris wine tasting, and what should have been a pledge to multicultural bridge-building teeters dangerous close to a celebration of an “America Fuck Yeah” ethos.
- Freestyle Releasing
- 110 min
- Randall Miller
- Jody Savin, Randall Miller, Ross Schwartz
- Chris Pine, Alan Rickman, Bill Pullman, Rachael Taylor, Freddy Rodríguez, Eliza Dushku, Bradley Whitford, Dennis Farina, Miguel Sandoval
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