May 24, 2019
by Diane McCurdy, Film and Book Reviews
Wine Country is a hybrid. It was released theatrically on Wednesday the first week of May and it was available for streaming the following Friday. This almost simultaneous accessibility is a trend. The film celebrates our locale and this double venue situation gives more people a chance to view it. The plot, if there is one, revolves around six women who want to honor one of the group's fiftieth birthday. What better place to do this than the Napa Valley. The plan is mostly to get together drink a lot of wine and get tipsy. This is Amy Poehler's directorial debut and the script is patterned after a real trip the actresses took together a couple of years ago. The six fictional ladies in the movie know each other after having worked in a pizza parlor in Chicago. The actresses know each other as Saturday Night Live alumnae.
Of course all of the fictional women have issues, whether it is lamenting over a job that has been lost or the results of a medical test or ruminating over a disinterested husband or a one-sided romance. Amy is the leader and is somewhat of a control freak. She has planned every detail of their weekend and even hands out a printed agenda. Jason Schwartzman, who apparently comes with the house, is their driver and doubles as their cook. He is obsessed with making a giant pot of paella. One of the scheduled activities, of course, is wine tasting and their hosts try to give them some background and history the ladies make it clear that they don't care. They are only interested in the buzz that that lovely liquid imparts. Another event on the list is to have Tarot cards read. The Tarot reader is somewhat unhinged and is as insulting as she is provocative.
Amy Poehler sparkles and Maya Rudolf is particularly adept at playing a benevolent drunk. Tina Fay as the owner of the rental house where they are staying is strangely flat. Much of the movie was shot in the Napa Valley and Calistoga. Artesa and Baldacci wineries were specific locations. Vistas of the row upon row of vineyards are awe inspiring, so much the symbol indeed the life blood of our area. I wish I could say I liked this film more than I did but there was no there, there. However, the players are so compelling and the subtle satirizing of our sometimes pretentious wine culture are so amusing it is worth viewing.
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