Movie Review - Wine Country (2019)
The idea of a group of friends who gather at a house for a weekend to celebrate some event or memorialize something is an idea that has been the subject of several films. The most substantial was The Big Chill (1983). Since then, there have been several films made that could be considered remakes of that 1983 classic. This is particularly true for independent films because it's an easy idea to execute because it's a group of people all in one location. Nine years ago, there were three of this kind of film released all within a few months of each other. One was The Romantics (2010). The second was Not Since You (2010). The third was Grown Ups (2010).
Just as a point of fact, five years ago, there was another film made with this same premise that involved a cast member from Saturday Night Live. It was called Beside Still Waters (2014). The group of friends in that film wasn't mono-gendered in its focus. It involved both men and women as friends dealing with various issues. That isn't the case here. Poehler's film is all about women. We've had more of which lately, but this isn't like mainstream comedies like Bridesmaids (2011) or Girls Trip (2017), which are more over-the-top. Those films were designed to be bolder and louder. This film is instead more measured and quiet.
Rachel Dratch co-stars as Rebecca, the one who's celebrating her 50th birthday. It's because of her that everyone has gotten together. She's a therapist and talks like one constantly. She's married to a guy that her friends don't like, but they won't tell her that. Despite being a therapist, there are certain things about her life that she won't acknowledge like her growing back pains.
Paula Pell plays Val, a plump, blonde lesbian who lives in Portland and runs a vintage store. She becomes interested in a younger woman and thinks about pursuing a relationship with this younger woman. She's very open and adventurous. Maya Rudolph plays Naomi, a stay-at-home mom who wants to be as open and adventurous. She does so for this trip, but she is so for a reason that she doesn't reveal to her friends. Emily Spivey also plays Jenny, a wife and mother too who's not as open and adventurous. She has anxieties about doing certain things.
Prior to that final twenty minutes, there are five really funny moments or sequences that really made me love this film. It begins with the opening sequence. It's a very good hook that made me want to keep watching the film, even in its slow sections. The opening sequence is a multi-person phone call between the six women that seems to unfold over several days. It's edited so well and so smoothly. It's a 4-minute sequence that demonstrates Poehler's deftness in putting together a good piece of comedy.
Like Tamara Jenkins' Private Life (2018), this is another great piece of comedic filmmaking by a female director to pop up recently. It makes me hopeful to see more of it and it makes me hopeful to see more from Poehler who definitely proves herself in the director's chair.
Rated R for crude sexual content, language and some drug material.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 43 mins.
Available on Netflix.