I saw the trailer for this film when I rewatched my Slumdog Millionaire DVD, and my mom bought it for me a few days later. One of the reviews on the front promised, “The next Sideways or Little Miss Sunshine.” I enjoyed those films. I was hoping from the review and trailer that it might be something very similar to Sideways.
Bottle Shock follows Steven Spurrier, played by Alan Rickman. He’s a British man trying to operate a wine shop in Paris. In his search for a way to break into the wine community there, he devises a wine competition to pit Paris wines against the up-and-coming wines of America.
In America, the film depicts vintners in the Napa Valley. The leads are father and son Jim and Bo Barrett, played by Bill Pullman and Chris Pine respectively. Along the way, we witness the struggles and fun of the hardworking Americans and their friends.
The two primary problems with the film are the lack of focus because of the multiple characters and the way it trivializes its own story.
I’ll explain. The film seems to decide early on that sticking to it’s subject matter would be too boring, so it goes on tangents about Bo’s left over hippy lifestyle and a lame romantic triangle. They detract from the main storyline, and I think something more about them actually trying to sell the wine would have been better.
The end result is a film that throws around a bunch of characters and relationships without creating any single on that is completely satisfying. Tonally, it tries to be a standard historical drama but also quirky at the same time, but it just ends up being melodramatic with enough quirk and comedy to fill the trailer.
My favourites from the film: Alan Rickman’s performance is great. If they had made the film completely about him and the rest of the characters were supporting, I’d say this film could have been a quirky surreal comedy. The scenery in the film is beautiful. Bill Pullman and Chis Pine work well as father and son.
My less enjoyed parts of the film: Honestly after saying all that, the thing that bugged me the most was Chris Pine’s hair. It just looked horrible. There really wasn’t that much about the struggles of making wine or running a vineyard. Despite their goal of showing that they weren’t just dumb hicks, they were pretty uneducated hicks.
My recommendation: Sideways did a more focused and enjoyable story about wine tasting. Honestly I wouldn’t say it was bad, and you could enjoy it if you just want to kick back and have a drink. If I could have given my two cents to the filmmakers, I probably would have told them to trim it down a bit and use that to focus it more.