TL;DR – It is a film with one of the best comedic casts in the industry, but it just meanders a bit too much.
Score – 3.5 out of 5 stars
Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene
Turning 50 is one of those big moments in your life that makes you think back at everything that has led you to this point. The friends you made, the choices you made or didn’t make, how your bodies do or don’t hold up. It is a time of friendship, reflection, and a lot of wine, like a serious copious amount of wine.
So to set the scene, a long time ago in a pizza joint in Chicago a group of friends came together. Since then Abby (Amy Poehler), Naomi (Maya Rudolph), Rebecca (Rachel Dratch), Catherine (Ana Gasteyer), Val (Paula Pell), and Jenny (Emily Spivey) have been inseparable even though they have all moved to different cities and have had very different lives. First the first time in a long time the whole group is coming together to celebrate Rebecca’s 50th birthday. The group booked out a house in Napa Valley for a weekend of wine, lots of wine, a very tight schedule, and more wine. But as everyone’s lives have moved in different directions, the question is, have they moved on from each other.
first thing you see is that the cast they have assembled for this film has some
of the best comedic talent working in the industry at the moment. When you have
a film that has Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, Tina Fey, Rachel Dratch and more you
know you are going to have some really good laughs. At its heart, this is an
ensemble film and this is where it works the best because everyone is given
their all here. The film also makes the most of its location with rolling
wineries up hills as far as the eye can see. There are a couple of moments
where you can tell that they had to refilm some things and the original site
was not available but it wasn’t as bad as I have seen in other films.
A lot of this film’s subtext is around fear, the fear of rejection, the fear of getting older, the fear of being replaced, the fear of not wanting to call back the doctors, and in these moments the film really spoke to me. It also might be that my name is Brian, so at times, well let’s just say Brians do not do well here. In these moments where people are not talking with each other because they are trying to protect themselves or others from the news but in essence are hurting people through their silence is where the film has some real emotional resonance.
the film introduces these issues and it takes a long time to work through them,
even though it is pretty apparent right from the start how many of these plot
points will work out. This is a style of filmmaking that when done well uses a sort
of crass humour as a way of luring you in before hitting you with the emotional
point. I just don’t think they quite got there in the execution. Part of this
was because of extraneous plot points like Devon (Jason Schwartzman) and his paella or Miss Sunshine (Cherry Jones) and her tarot cards
or the Fran Drescher/The Nanny art installation. Which bring the story to a
halt and don’t add anything we don’t already know.
In the end, do we recommend Wine Country? Look that is a hard maybe. There is a lot of crass humour that will put people off and it does meander around the plot a bit. But it is also a frank look at getting old and how the friendships of the past move into the future. I’m just not sure it gets that balance right.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow
Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV,
he’ll be talking about International Relations,
or the Solar System.
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Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Wine Country
Directed by – Amy Poehler
Story by – Amy Poehler, Emily Spivey & Liz Cackowski
Screenplay by – Emily Spivey & Liz Cackowski
Music by – Lisa Coleman & Wendy Melvoin
Cinematography by – Tom Magill
Edited by – Julie Monroe
Production/Distribution Companies – Paper Kite Productions, Paper Pictures, Dunshire Productions & Netflix
Starring – Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, Rachel Dratch, Ana Gasteyer, Paula Pell, Emily Spivey, Tina Fey, Jason Schwartzman, Maya Erskine, Cherry Jones, Jay Larson, Liz Cackowski, Greg Poehler & Sunita Mani
Rating – Australia: M; United States: R