This is a terrible movie.
Some Spoilers below (but if it keeps you from watching this particular movie, I don't think you can really say it's been "spoiled.")
We follow two forty-something losers (Jack, a has-been minor actor and Miles, a divorced wine geek/wannabe writer middle school teacher who drinks too much) through a bachelor trip they take together to the Santa Barbara wine country during the week before the actor's wedding.
There are lots of problems with this movie, but most of them lie in the area of credibility. I understand that this is not meant to be precise realism but:
- It seems impossible that these two guys have ever wanted to spend 5 minutes with each other. They nothing in common and personalities that intersect at no point whatsoever. Furthermore, they are both unbearable. Jack is an ass. Miles is the kind of deliberately unhappy man who makes you want to slit your own throat to escape his moaning. The idea that they've been best buddies since college is ludicrous.
- The idea that Jack -- a classic "good-time Joe" (who's main goal for the trip is to get laid) agreed to a tour of the vineyards of Santa Barbara County as his "week before marriage" trip is dumb. (You don't go to wine country to meet someone for sex -- you go to wine country to have sex with someone you already know.) Jack is Mr. Vegas (or Acapulco or even Tijuana), all the way. It's like the idea of George W. Bush going to Sta. Barabara to party.
- It is admittedly not my area of expertise, but I just don't believe that two forty-something straight guys would EVER plan a week-long wine tasting trip with each other.
So to my mind the movie tries to build itself from a central relationship and a central plot device that are equally incredible.
As for character development, well... Jack turns out to be little more than a "horndog former pretty boy" stereotype. He is allowed to cry at one point while claiming to love his fiancée, but it's sort of a shock and hard to buy given his complete indifference to her at every other point in the movie. Miles, on the other hand, does seem to go from being a tedious depressed sot to a tedious somewhat-less-depressed sot. (Really, he makes you yearn for the cheerfulness of Giamatti's Harvey Pekar character in "American Splendor".) But, from everything we see, it seems unlikely that Miles will ever manage to pull a worthwhile existence out of this particular life. He's such a self-involved, emotionally unattractive person that when, at the end of the film, he takes the step of chasing down Virginia Madsen's character (a warm, wise and beautiful woman who is way far out of Miles' league in any universe, fictional or real), not only is it difficult to cheer for him, one wants to yell at the screen to warn her not to answer the door.
As for the women -- well they are all there pretty much just to be mistreated, demeaned and/or talked about like meat.
As silly as it is, the "wine country" trip is, of course, supposed to be a metaphor. Many of the characters are obsessed with wine (to an extent that makes you think that maybe they fall in together because nearly everyone else runs away when they see them coming) and they use the language of wine to discuss other issues in their life. A lot.
(Basically: People, like wine, are complex and you should take the time to savor them properly. Also, you have to be sure to act on things in your life at peak moments, just the way you must drink fine wines at their peak. There. I've saved you 2 hours.)
The movie is jam-packed with wine stuff -- tastings, discussions, tours of wineries, walks through vineyards. At one point the screen splits into four parts seemingly because the filmmakers shot so much second-unit footage of wine country scenery that they just can't get it all out there without using some distracting pointless student-film device. Now metaphors are great and, eptly used, they can resonate with an audience and deepen the meaning of a creative work. But someone needs to tell Mr. Payne that there is a line beyond which metaphor becomes bad documentary ... and in this case that line is somewhere back in his editing room.
This "wine documentary" feel adds to the generally uneven tone of the picture -- it can't seem to decide whether it's a realistic drama, a fantasy, a fairy-tale or brutal hyper-reality. So it tries a little of each.
Oh - and it's not funny.
73 out of 141 found this helpful.
Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.