Posted by: ckckred | July 22, 2012

Bottle Shock: The Shock Doesn’t Rock

Steven Spurrier (Alan Rickman) tries some of the Napa Valley wine

It’s impossible to talk about Bottle Shock without first bringing up Alexander Payne’s Sideways.  Though the films are different stories at different times, both of them are about Californian vineyards.  I think Bottle Shock was made to capitalize off the success of Sideways.

The film, based on a true story, takes place in 1976 (and for those of you who never took a history class, 1776 is the year of American Independence, making 1976 the 200th Anniversary).  Steven Spurrier (Alan Rickman) is an British wine store owner.  He lives in France and praises their wine, calling it the best in the world.  When he hears about the vineyards at Napa Valley, he decides to have a competition between French and Californian wines.

So Spurrier goes to a small Californian vineyard run by Jim Barret (Bill Pullman, who you may know as the president from Independence Day).  Barret’s vineyard has been struggling, and he’s had no help from his son Bo (Chris Pine), who’s fallen for the new intern Sam (Rachael Taylor).

I first thought the movie would be a culture clash between the French and Californians.  Steven’s a snob who believes Barret and the rest of Napa Valley can’t make good wine because he thinks they’re rednecks.  But when he tries some, not only is it good but even better than the French wine.

If the film was just about that, I think it’d be much stronger.  But that’s the film’s subplot.  The main story revolves around Bo trying to help his father save the vineyard with Sam and his friend Gustavo (Freddy Rodriguez).  Not only is this entire part pretty boring, but damages the movie overall.

There’s a strong performance by Alan Rickman, but he can’t save the entire film.  The pace is too slow, and the other characters aren’t very interesting.  Just do yourself a favor and watch the much superior Sideways instead.

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