Any film starring Maya Rudolph (Bridesmaids, Grown Ups, The Good Place), already sets a precedent that it will be exactly what you expect it to be. Mix in a big ‘ol spoon of Amy Poehler (Parks and Recreation) in her directorial debut and you get Wine Country. A mildly heartwarming tale of old friends who go on a trip to celebrate a 50th birthday. The biggest shock of this film is that not all goes to plan, right behind the fact that they drink copious amounts of wine. But something about this film makes the incredibly predictable narrative (if you can call it that), rather endearing. I wouldn’t watch it again, but I don’t regret watching it either.
‘I didn’t like it, I didn’t hate it.’
The plot of the film is relatively obvious from the outset, but that didn’t make it any less entertaining. Channeling the casual mid-life-crisis vibes of Grown Ups, and the attempts at a comedy take on serious issues that are so common on screen now, this film is precisely what it says on the tin. There were moments of laughter, moments of mild concern and moments of complete ludicrousness. It didn’t have the element of, what I like to call, “shove it down your throat comedy.” In which actors such as Rebel Wilson try so hard to not only be funny, but signpost the funny and stick a nice big bow and arrow on the funny. I didn’t feel like I was being expected to laugh out loud every three minutes in Wine Country. This was most definitely a relief as I could just watch the film for what it was, without feeling like I was really missing something that everyone else was laughing at. I didn’t like it, I didn’t hate it.
One credit to the film is that it did attempt to tackle some serious issues, but these issues were (mostly) pushed into the position of the butt of the jokes. They may as well have said, “We are women, we are going through menopause, we are hysterical or horny.” But, Poelher has a long way with words and decided to skirt around the point. It was hardly revolutionary in its depiction of a female friendship group. The simple plot and interspersed moments of comedy lends itself to a night in with – wait for it – your friends and a bottle of wine! (Pause for gasp) It was clearly attempting to convey the importance of friendship and the journey of drifting away, and back to, your friends. But the lack of depth undermined any real emotional connection to the film. This is becoming somewhat of a theme for Netflix originals, occasionally they come out with something amazing, but quite often their original productions lack one aspect or another.
‘the lack of depth undermined any real emotional connection to the film’
The best way I can describe this film is that it is two dimensional. (You know it makes sense) It has a good cast, a nice setting and a standard plot, but it lacks any real depth. Perhaps if I was also a 50 year old woman then I would have felt it resonated more with me. But I am not. So, unless you are a 50 year old woman, Wine Country will most probably provide you light entertainment for 100 minutes, a couple of mild to relatively substantial laughs, and a fading memory of a film that, in the current landscape of cinema, made a very fleeting impact.