A wine-tasting road trip through California’s famed Central Coast takes an unexpected detour as Miles (Paul Giamatti) and Jack (Thomas Haden Church) hit the gas en route to their mid-life crisis. Academy Award Winner for “Best Adapted Screenplay” and winner of two Golden Globes, including for “Best Picture (Comedy/Musical)”
Runtime : 127 mins
Released : 2004
The misadventures begin when Miles (Paul Giamatti), an un-recovered divorcé and would-be novelist with a wine fixation, decides to gift old college buddy and washed-up actor Jack (Thomas Haden Church) with a celebratory trip to the vineyards of the Santa Ynez Valley the week before Jack’s wedding.
The two couldn’t be an odder couple. Jack is an over-sexed charmer; Miles is a sad-sack worrier. Jack is looking for his “last taste of freedom”; Miles just wants to taste perfection in a bottle. Jack is fine with cheap Merlot; Miles pines for the elusive, perfect Pinot.
Indeed, the only thing they seem to share in common is the same heady mix of failed ambitions and fading youth. And yet, as they make their way up the coast, Miles and Jack soon find themselves drowning in wine and women. Both men careen dangerously and comically toward mid-life crises. Now, the wedding approaches and with it the certainty that Miles and Jack won’t make it back to Los Angeles unscathed or unchanged…if they get back there at all.
“Sideways” is, for me, a Top 5 film for 2004 with Oscar nominations due for Giamatti, Church, Payne, Kent, Madsen and others within the production team. It is filmmaking at its finest and, while not quite what I’d consider a “perfect” film it is a richly entertaining, thought-provoking and moving film that I wholeheartedly recommend for the film viewer that embraces the simple beauty of a story unfolding with grace, dignity and honesty.
© Written by Richard Propes The Independent Critic
Watch the Trailer:
Paul Giamatti, The Merlot Guy, Knows Nothing About Wine – The Late Show with Stephen Colbert:
The Filmmaker: Alexander Payne
Thomas Haden Church