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WithSideways, Paul Giamatti (American Splendor,Storytelling) has become an unlikely but engaging romantic lead. Struggling novelist and wine connoisseur Miles (Giamatti) takes his best friend Jack (Thomas Haden Church,Wings) on a wine-tasting tour of California vineyards for a kind of extended bachelor party. Almost immediately, Jack's insatiable need to sow some wild oats before his marriage leads them into double-dates with a rambunctious wine pourer (Sandra Oh,Under the Tuscan Sun) and a recently divorced waitress (Virginia Madsen,The Hot Spot)--and Miles discovers a little hope that he hasn't let himself feel in a long time.Sidewaysis a modest but finely tuned film; with gentle compassion, it explores the failures, struggles, and lowered expectations of mid-life. Giamatti makes regret and self-loathing sympathetic, almost sweet. From the director ofElectionandAbout Schmidt.--Bret Fetzer
Pretentious coming-of-middle-age movie If you enjoy well-thought-out characters, you'll love... another movie, not this one. Is it that bad?
- Transparent metaphor: Painful and long monologue by Miles about how pinot noir need be handled with care. Followed by Maya's retort about "alcohol overwhelming the fruit." Gee, are you talking about yourself? - Lack of depth: characters that never achieve audience sympathy; they're purely cardboard cutouts. ("Who" would be the proper pronoun -- if the characters were even vaguely human) - Trite resolution: Asian woman ends up unhappy; the nebbishy guy gets the girl; and, the womanizer lamely hides his debauchery from his fiancee. - Snobbishness: Shots and dialogue which openly mock less expensive wines, tract houses, and almost anyone middle or working class -- except the central characters. - Too much: Unpublished writing about an unpublished writer; director casting his wife as the hot woman. Shows many guns and then doesn't fire them. (Chekhov would strangle the author.)
Yes, it's a poorly-edited, unendearing, pretentious, post-pubescent coming-of-age movie. Worse, the fact that it rips off so many teen coming-of-age road trip movies makes it a retread to boot. The only people I know who like this movie are themselves men in or near mid-life-crisis. If you thought Sally Potter's _The Tango Lesson_ was a cheesy and poorly-done post-menopausal fantasy... well, here's the male version.
The DVD does provide some solace, however: It could have been worse. (Amazingly) Watch the deleted scenes to read the ridiculously self-congratulatory commentary and see even lamer cinematography and tired plot elements.
It really is quite simple: 1. Do you approve of alcoholics consious of their problem? 2. Do you approve of a son stealing money from his elderly mother? 3. Do you approve of a man who cheats on his wife? 4. Do you approve of lying? If you answered "no" to all of these question I doubt you'll like the movie. The main character's actions are deplorable and yet people seem to like this movie, which by the way was based on a true story. Makes me nervous when stories as such gain popularity, seems as though people are ignoring the basic principles of human decency for a couple of laughs.Had promise, but failed to deliver the goods Maybe I should have waited to watch this movie as perhaps it gets better with age. Critics and movie reviewers raved about this film as it even won some awards as one of the best films of the year. I do not share that opinion. This movie isn't terrible, granted. The talk about wine didn't bother me, but it did seem to lift a page from Kevin Smith's College of Awkwardly Placed Monologues but with pseudo-intellectual wine snobbery in place of crude debates about biological functions, sexuality, or comic books. There were several comical moments in the film that deserve their due credit (my personal favorite being the intensely pissed main character drinking the wine-spit concoction after being denied the sale of a whole bottle of wine). Many reviewers on this Amazon.com page claim the film was highly sexual to the point of being obscene. These people must be the fortunate recipients of the little known "Cinema and Internet for the Amish" outreach program. There was some nudity and sexual content, but not really a whole lot. Other than that, I'm not disappointed I saw this movie, but despite its critical acclaim it just didn't deliver like expected.