“Just remember, whatever gets said is probably what the person has always felt… and the alcohol just let it out.”
Netflix’s new original movie and Amy Poehler’s directorial debut, Wine Country, sees six middle-aged women celebrate a 50thand escape to Napa Valley with no cell phone service, no wifi, just wine and each other. What could possibly go wrong?
Wine Country is advertised as a feel-good comedy about the power of friendship that stars a stellar ensemble cast of funny ladies recognisable from such successes as Bridesmaids, Sisters and Saturday Night Live. With the cast of creative geniuses that have brought us such quality comedic content in the past, such as Maya Rudolph, Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, Paula Pell, Rachel Dratch, Emily Spidey and Ana Gasteyer, Wine Country was expected to give the audience mind-numbing hilarity and perfectly timed comedic lines.
But you know what they say about having expectations…
It’s abundantly clear that these women, apart from their incessant bitch-ing regarding the dreaded “itinerary” that was made by Poehler’s character, are having a blast. But… are we?
The film centres around these women in their late 40’s/early 50’s who once worked at the same pizza joint, remained friends and are now reconvening years later. Although I am a good two decades away from being able to directly relate to these women, I was still able to find moments where I could connect.
Do I wish the wine taster would stop talking to me and just let me drink the damn wine? Yes.
Do I also jam to old school tunes with my girlfriends when we’re drinking? Yes.
Do I wish the script and story would have been even a little bit more entertaining? Hell yes.
There were little bits and pieces woven into this film that made it funny, relatable and real. Wine Country attempts to break the tradition of what a typical “girls’ weekend trip” can be. These ladies are not picture perfect, these ladies are you. They’re hard-working middle-class women who never have time to see their best friends and come up with a reason to come together. What follows is a whirlwind of vulgar jokes, hook-ups, bonding moments, mild man-bashing (sorry Brian), and of course, wine.
In theory, you have the perfect equation for a new comedy masterpiece. It’s essentially a Saturday Night Live reunion, and this movie was indeed written based on an actual trip the main actresses took together for Rachel Dratch’s 50th.
Wine Country is completely carried out by its brilliant cast, particularly Paula Pell. At this point, I’m still convinced she is my soulmate after watching this movie (unsure if I mean her comedic abilities suit my humour or if I am genuinely convinced we are romantically compatible).
I will say, I very much enjoyed and related to the ongoing joke the ladies had, which was saying “#ThingsWeSayNow” whenever they’d mention something regarding their age. And shoutout to Amy Poehler for making CPAP Sleep Apneoa machines cool!
These ladies were not sugar coating anything, and I couldn’t help but notice their range of different bodies – yay for representation! (It is 2019, after all.)
But while all of that sounds appealing, Wine Country just left me feeling… meh. It’s not perfect, but mildly enjoyable. It had a real chance of being a heart-warming comedy through a female filter, but in any story, there’s a beginning, middle and end. Wine Country seemed to just have one never-ending middle.
The visual components of the movie are not an issue – Poehler makes some interesting blocking choices that were creative and helped carry the interest there for the viewer. What was lacking is, surprisingly, the writing. The jokes weren’t quite as sharp as I was expecting from the leading ladies in comedy, and despite the great premise and cast, it just wasn’t a strong enough script in my opinion.
The type of comedy is what you’d expect – crude humour, focusing largely on shock value. But when you look past the vulgar lines, you’ll notice the cringing sense of desperation for modern-day issues. It all seems a bit over-done, and the whole “I don’t get you” millennial-bashing is something we’ve seen many times before.
That’s not to say that the film doesn’t have its redeeming moments, and it’s refreshing to see chick flicks migrate away from solely women fighting over men – the main love story in the movie even features two women!
The ladies have their realistic issues that we can all relate to, such as exclusion, long-distance friendships and that unavoidable midlife crisis. And side note, but Maya Rudolph casually walking around in a satin bonnet in front of her white girlfriends is the type of normalization in mainstream content that we’ve been waiting for.
So, despite the underwhelming experience, I wouldn’t consider Wine Country a total disaster, and if you’re looking for a movie that’s just easy to watch and somewhat entertaining, consider this as your next pick. It would be a good movie to watch with your friends, where you can still chat to each other over the monotonous dialogue but can gush at the gorgeous Napa Valley location and the sneaky BrenéBrown cameo.
Even though the plot is predictable and at times, tiresome, it is clear that it is drawn from genuine real-life friendships. Their chemistry is sincere, and if you take nothing else away from this movie, at least you see a butch Tina Fey as an edible-soap making hippie who seems to be channelling Ron Swanson from Parks and Rec, and to me, that is reason enough.