Review: Wine Country

Written by Film, Latest

Wine is better in small doses. By the second glass, the delicate tastes get muddled: by the fourth, you’re probably too smashed to care. Moderation is the word for both actual wine and Wine Country.

Directed, written by and starring Parks and Recreation’s Amy Poehler and featuring a smattering of her old Saturday Night Live co-stars, in Wine Country a group of middle-aged friends try to reconnect by spending a long weekend together in a gorgeous country villa. It’s their performances that are the heart and soul of the movie. Aside from a few overly theatrical moments near the start and climax, their interaction is believable, enjoyable and charming, each character evidently written to play to their actor’s comedic and dramatic strengths.

I came in wanting to love it, and left feeling a little disappointed.

But the problem is there’s just too much of it for a movie. Poehler’s commitment to character equality means each one of the main six and the side characters are all given their own subplots. Val’s burgeoning attraction for a waitress, Abby’s addiction to planning and Jenny’s complete apathy battle for space as Wine Country keeps introducing comedy setpieces and moments of drama. By the time we’re all up to speed on everyone’s damage, there’s barely twenty minutes of runtime left. Consequently, the finale is sloppy, hastily clawing together a bunch of disparate plot threads that it’s forced to resolve in a couple lines of dialogue. It’s a disappointing conclusion for what is ultimately a promising, likeable cast.

Wine Country wants to be a series rather than a Netflix one-off. It’s got charm to spare and oodles of character, but it has so much more ambition than it can realistically bring to bear. I came in wanting to love it, and left feeling a little disappointed: a waste of a good cast and a better dynamic.

Rating: 2.5/5 stars

Last modified: 15th May 2019

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