Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Bottle Shock

Written By:Jody Savin & Randall Miller

Directed By: Randall Miller

Starring: Alan Rickman, Bill Pullman, Chris Pine, Rachael Taylor

My Rating: 4/10

What a wonderful story! How Californian wines rose from obscurity through the tangled vines of snobbery to become some of the most revered and popular wines on today's market.

Bottle Shock tells the true story of how a disillusioned wine merchant living in Paris travelled to California in 1976 to gather wines to be sampled in a blind taste test by some of France's most reknowned wine connoisseurs. As the story goes, the Californian wine whooped the ass of the French wine and thus overcame French snobbery (no, they didn't, but it overcame it for a brief moment. Long enough to allow the rest of the world to see).

The wine merchant in question is played by Alan Rickman who is his usual charmingly horrible self. He is the hero of the piece, despite being a cantankerous know-it-all. That is the beauty of casting Alan Rickman. He can make any character kinda likeable.

So far so good right? The perfect seeds for a wonderful story. It's a shame then that someone thought it would be a good idea to add a bunch of horny teenager plotlines and focus more on stoner loser Bo, the vineyard owner's son and some sort of nonsense love triangle with poor Mexican wine-lover Gustavo. Instead of focussing on Bill Pullman's complicated Jim Barrett (the obsessive, aggressive owner of the vineyard), it completely skirts over him, making him almost impossible to like. That's a shame becasue he was an interesting character that mostly just came off like a prick because of lazy writing.

However, studios will be studios and audiences like pretty girls with blonde hair and boobies. Hence the kissing amongst the vines and the comic scene of flashing a police officer. Scenes like these are what destroyed this perfectly adorable story.

There's no bad performances here. Everyone is pretty much good at their job but there's such a clear line between what the film could've been (Rickman v. Pullman) and what it turned into (blonde teengers v. grown-ups). It's a shame because it had a lot of potential. See it for the interesting story, and start saving your pennies for a bottle of Chateau Montelene chardonnay which retails at about $40 a bottle. Whoosh!

- Charlene Lydon

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