Review: Wine Country (2019)

A movie about wine?! Now you’re talking!

If you’ve been following my recent posts, you’re well aware of how I’ve recently been burned by Netflix original movies. I found both The Perfect Date (2019) and Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile (2019) – which you can check out my reviews for here and here – to be underwhelming and if I’m being honest, have found my faith in the streaming service wavering. However, there isn’t a lot that a generous amount of Saturday Night Live (1975 – present) alumni, and an even more generous amount of wine can’t fix, as Wine Country (2019) more than proves. Never underestimate the power of women. Or wine. Seriously though, how perfect for me was this movie’s premise? A group of fabulous ladies drinking and laughing in the wilderness? Fuck yes to all of this! Honestly, it sounds hauntingly similar to my childhood. Let’s just say that my family are “wine connoisseurs” and they happen to take their craft very seriously.

Screen Shot 2019-05-12 at 7.26.46 PM
Credit: imdb.com / Netflix

Directed by Amy Poehler, Wine Country tells the story of a group of women who travel to California’s Wine Country to celebrate the 50th birthday of one of their own. Over the course of the weekend the group of lifelong friends experience fits of wine-fueled hilarity, mischief and confrontation.

First things first, can we talk about the amazing cast that assembled for Poehler’s directorial debut? Maya Rudolph, Rachel Dratch, Ana Gasteyer, Paula Pell, Emily Spivey AND Tina Fey? Obviously there’s more than enough comedic talent between the six of them to warrant their inclusion in the movie, but I also love that they were most likely cast because of their close friendship with Poehler. Could you imagine how much fun it must be to A) be close friends with a group of insanely talented SNL veterans, and B) get to film a movie where you spend the whole time drinking wine and vacationing in the breathtaking Eden that is Wine Country? Seriously, half of the notes I wrote down for this movie were just, “oooh, that’s a pretty landscape.” The stunning views and the obviousness of how much fun day-drinking with your friends can be is sure to inspire groups of women to book Wine Country as their next girls trip. I would also love to grab a group of friends and spend three days drinking in the California sun.

As expected, the cast of Wine Country is charming, hilarious and in no shortage of infectious comedic energy. Each actress is fully committed to her performance, and watching them effortlessly deliver joke after joke will ensure a smile is plastered on your face from start to finish. It bodes well for Wine Country that its cast and writing are so sharp, because when it comes to overall story, the movie loses some of its bite. Granted, this isn’t supposed to be a movie with a deep or complex plot. Simply, it’s a fun romp about a group of friends drinking and having a good time, meant to entertain Netflix viewers on a Sunday afternoon while they enjoy their own glass of wine. And for the most part, that’s what the movie delivers. However, there seemed to be a lack of cohesion to the story so that at times, the pacing felt really off. I would say that the flow of the movie was as follows:

  • A sidesplittingly funny scene that felt like a comedy skit.
  • Hastily check in on a character’s side story.
  • A scene of prolonged improv that probably should have been cut.
  • Return to the hijinks of the group enjoying their weekend.

Admittedly it’s an odd way to pace a movie and if this were a more serious or dramatic story, I’d be a lot harsher on the movie. This movie is kind of all love the place but it earns enough goodwill to be forgiven. Even though it struggles to tell its story in a cohesive way, Wine Country ultimately succeeds by relying on the outrageously entertaining performances of its stars. Honestly, these women could sit and read the phone book and I’d have tears running down my face.

Screen Shot 2019-05-12 at 7.24.59 PM
Credit: imdb.com / Netflix

In a movie already filled with standout performances, Maya Rudolph stands head and shoulders above the rest and steals every scene she’s in. How does she do that? I feel like ever since catapulting to widespread notoriety in Bridesmaids (2011), she hasn’t been given nearly enough leading roles. Somehow though, she lands supporting parts in other comedies and always, always, ALWAYS manages to steal the show. Why have we as as a society decided to sleep on Maya Rudolph? Let her have more starring roles please Universe! Speaking of memorable performances, Tina Fey has a supporting role in this movie and it’s…odd. Fey plays Tammy, the owner of the house the women stay at and while she’s perfectly fine in the role, I feel like she never reaches the comedic heights I know she’s more than capable of. Most of the time it feels like she’s improvising all of her lines and like she only had a day and a half to film her scenes. Still, even an off performance for Fey is more enjoyable than a great performance from some of today’s leading comedy stars.

A very real portrayal of the best and worst parts of friendship and an honest-to-goodness visual delight, Wine Country is a guaranteed pleasant viewing experience for all. If you really want to make an afternoon of it, and I suggest you do, gather your friends, open a bottle or two of wine, and revel in the sheer hilarity of what happens when a close knit group of friends lets loose and spend a long weekend heavily drinking. I’m sure we can all relate to that, can’t we? Cheers!

Have you streamed Wine Country yet?

Let me know in the comments or on social media!

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