Netflix is giving me two of my favorite things in the world: wine and movies. And I couldn’t be more grateful.
Wine Country features a group of lifelong friends who grab their wine openers and head deep into Napa Valley to celebrate a friend’s 50th birthday. As the headline of this post says, in wine there is truth. And there is a whole lot of truth offered up in this movie.
Reunited And It Feels So Good
Amy Poehler directs and leads a cast that looks like an SNL reunion (Rachel Dratch, Ana Gasteyer, Maya Rudolph, and Tina Fey in an unnecessary role that was clearly made up for her to be included but only have to be on set for two days). As you would guess, old friends plus unlimited wine plus vacation attitude can equal comedy and familial drama.
Obviously the goal of the film is to focus on the friends by taking them out of their disparate environments and getting them out of their comfort zones. But none of this feels super contrived. Friends do big reunion trips all the time in real life. And it’s refreshing not to see them in Las Vegas or Miami Beach. Napa Valley may be somewhat cliché but at least it’s not overdone.
And the fact that these women are friends and/or colleagues in real life comes through in the film. This cast has chemistry in spades.
The Past is Present
This movie could have easily slipped into middle age movie clichés. The group has known each other more than 20 years and could have reopened superficial wounds like who stole whose boyfriend back in the day. But instead they’re dealing with their problems in the present.
Lost jobs. Health issues. Bad relationships. They each have different ways of dealing and some of those rub others the wrong way. But the older you are the more you’ll relate to this film. One of my friends in his early 30s distinctly did not like this movie. I would posit that he’s a solid ten years from relating to the characters and, by virtue of age and experience, enjoying this movie more.
I Need A Drink
Of course, this movie is far from perfect. While the premise is common in real life many of the situations and characters are contrived. Tina Fey’s role as the owner of the rental house is extraneous and clearly written in because she and Amy are super tight.
There’s a chef/driver/cocksman who “comes with the house.” He appears and sorta cooks, sort of ingratiate himself, drives, is semi-zen, then just disappears when the plot no longer requires him to be there.
Napa Valley is presented as a small town where it’s easy to know everyone’s business. That may be what the local Chamber of Commerce would like tourists to believe but it’s far from true.
But even with these and a few other truly contrived ‘twists,’ this movie is still worth watching, especially if you’re over 40 or if you have a friend, relative etc. who is. It’s Netflix. You’ve already paid for it, so crack open a bottle of wine and watch.
Oh.. which wine should you have? Glad you asked.
The Critic’s Cocktail Recommendation
A bottle of Lost Angel pinot noir, because we need our better angels when we are all lost. And drink it out of a Diva Wine Glass!