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Bottle Shock (DVD Review)

29 Jan, 2009 By: Kyra Kudick

Bottle Shock

Street 2/3/09
Box Office $4.1 million
$27.98 DVD
Rated ‘PG-13’ for brief strong language, some sexual content and a scene of drug use.
Stars Alan Rickman, Bill Pullman, Chris Pine, Rachael Taylor, Eliza Dushku, Freddy Rodriguez, Dennis Farina.

Bottle Shock begs the question: Can this movie be enjoyed by someone who has no knowledge of or interest in wine?

The answer is probably not, which is no doubt why Fox has packaged it with the superior Sideways in “The Perfect Pairing” two-pack at $29.98, virtually the same price as the individual DVD. It’s like a buy-one-get-one deal in wine in which you buy a quality bottle of wine and get a lesser bottle for free. The free bottle is not a bad wine, enjoyable while drinking, but you probably wouldn’t feature it at your next wine-and-cheese tasting.

Thus is the essence of Bottle Shock, which is almost too ironic given its plot. It is a fine little movie, with some good performances by a great ensemble cast, but it is best enjoyed without overanalyzing the seemingly inevitable clichés of an underdog story.

Loosely based on true events, the film chronicles the road to the 1976 “Judgment of Paris,” where Napa wineries defeated the French in a blind tasting, leading to the recognition of Northern California as one of the world’s best wine-producing regions.

Because the event itself likely would make for a dull wino documentary, the filmmakers contrived a dramatic comedy about one of the winning vintners.

The story is at times heavy-handed and predictable, most evident in the father-son relationship of vintners Jim and Bo Barrett, played respectively by Bill Pullman and Star Trek’s Chris Pine (whose bad wig steals his scenes).

However, the film still manages to be genuinely entertaining thanks to performances by Alan Rickman, who plays the wine connoisseur responsible for the contest, and Dennis Farina, his American sidekick. Also delivering notable performances are Freddy Rodriguez, Eliza Dushku (“Dollhouse”), and a surprise bit from Bradley Whitford (“The West Wing”).

Special features are not particularly noteworthy, with a conventional audio commentary, making-of featurette, deleted scenes, and what appears to be an infomercial for the Chateau Montelena vineyard.

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