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Stars: Bill Pullman, Alan Rickman, Chris Pine, Freddy Rodriguez, Rachael Taylor, Dennis Farina, Miguel Sandoval, Joe Regalbuto
Director: Randall Miller
The birth of the California wine industry as a major international player may not sound a promising subject, but it makes a surprisingly entertaining film, if perhaps not one you'd queue in the rain to see.
Jim (Pullman), boss of Napa Valley's Montelena winery, is on his beam ends; he hasn't the cash needed to buy the extra barrels he requires, his wife has left him, and he takes out his frustrations on his hippie son Bo (Pine) in a home-made boxing ring at the vineyard.
Sexy intern Sam (Taylor) arrives and is soon bedded by Gustavo (Rodriguez) - who is secretly making his own wine while working for Jim - but seems destined to end up with Bo. Meanwhile, salvation for the struggling vintners of the area may be at hand in the snooty-nosed shape of French-based English wine snob Stephen Spurrier (Rickman) who, fed up with selling nothing but French wines in his stores, journeys to California to sample the local product. 'Great wine,' he tells his confidant (Farina) 'is great art.' Napa Valley is about to surprise him in that department.
The Pullman character comes across as unreasonable throughout and Taylor is far too easy a lay - and outshone by Eliza Dushku as the local bar owner - but the feelgood factors in the story and the warmth of the setting, not to mention Rickman's amusing performance, do win you over. Salut!
USA 2008. UK Distributor: Paramount. Colour by FotoKem.
106 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.
Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.
Review date: 13 Mar 2009