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This comedy tells the story of two middle-aged friends, Miles and Jack, a failed writer and a minor actor respectively, and their adventures in Uncle Jim’s backyard (i.e. California’s wine country) the week before Jack is to be married.   They’ve been friends since college despite, or maybe because of, being opposites (Miles is intellectual; Jack’s a bonehead).   Both now face mid-life crises:   Jack’s looking to sow wild oats before tying the knot whilst Miles has wallowed in a deep funk since his divorce.   The film takes the risk of making its two leads deeply flawed.   In fact, they’re downright heels, though not malicious.   Virginia Madsen and Sandra Oh play wine-loving girlfriends who become entwined with our heroes.   For Miles (Paul Giametti in another of his pitch-perfect performances), wine is one of the things that makes life worth living.   In fact, the same qualities of careful craftsmanship that Miles discerns in a great bottle of wine apply to this movie: it's subtle, layered, detailed, occasionally bold.   Recommended to wine enthusiasts like dad, although not all will share Miles’ violent opposition to Merlot).   Directed by Alexander Payne.

- Dec 5, 2004  

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