Ever since I read the novel this movie was based on back in September, I’ve been excited about seeing this movie.

Now The “Wif” and I don’t get to go out and see movies much anymore (a five-month-old puts a real snag on in-the-theatre movies) so when the Mom-In-Law offered to watch the little guy for a couple hours so we could see a movie, we were all about it.

I’d wanted to see this movie and The “Wif” knew this. She made the suggestion that we see this one (we’ve gotta give SERIOUS thought now to what we see in the theatre, it’s almost like the last meal of a dying man or something, gotta make it count!) and I ate it up. Let me mention that in the end, she didn’t enjoy it nearly as much as I did and in all honesty, I can understand. It was slow in several parts and devoid of any hilarious comedic stylings (it’s more of a “normal” comedy, not quite so slapstick as almost everything else out there). I loved every minute of it though because the two characters were written so well and translated VERY well into the capable acting chops of Giamatti and Church, in my humble opinion.

Miles (Paul Giamatti in the role that should really get him some attention. The dude’s been in EVERYTHING but this one will hopefully put him “on the map”) is hanging by a thin thread. He is not quite over his two-year-old divorce and the book he keeps hoping will get published has been rejected by several book publishers (“We just can’t MARKET the book. It’s a great story but we can’t MARKET it”). Miles is a hardcore wine aficionado and actually could be considered a “wine snob”. He looks at a good glass of wine like a beautiful woman and you’ve gotta admire that about him. He’s really devoted. I mean seriously, what kind of guy says “Citrus, passion fruit, just the faintest soupçon of asparagus, and, like, a nutty Edam cheese” when describing a liquid in a glass? It’s old grape juice for pete’s sake! (Just kidding, both the movie AND the book made me feel like I’m missing out on something since I don’t drink wine much at all and I feel like instead of writing this review I should go get schnockered on some wine)

Jack is an actor who has been relegated to television commercials and voice-over work. Jack is getting married in a week and the movie details his last week of freedom with his buddy Miles (his freshman year roommate from college and the best man at his upcoming wedding). Jack is played by Thomas Haden Church (yeah the dude from Wings) who gives an amazing fucking performance as the middle-aged guy who is not quite over his frat-boy days. He wants to get his groove on at LEAST one more time before settling into “the big fade” (Any fans of ‘Beautiful Girls’ out there?) and Church pulls it off by combining so many of the guys I’ve known in my life in one character. He’s amazing and worthy of all praises laid at his feet with this film. One of the funniest scenes (and yes The “Wif” DID laugh her ass off at this one) was the naked romp through the ostrich farm….Don’t ask me ’cause I’m not telling. Go pay for a ticket, ya friggin freeloader!!

What begins as a winetasting, golfing, buddy trip turns into Miles playing Jack’s wingman while Jack beds Stephanie (played by Sandra Oh, the director’s real-life wife) and attempts to get Miles hooked up with Maya (Virginia Madsen in a very NON-Candyman role).

The movie did leave out at least ONE subplot (the wild boar hunter! one of the funniest stories in the book but probably a bit out of place with the feel of the movie) but from what I remember of my enjoyment of the novel, Alexander Payne hit it out of the ball park with this one. He takes his time with the relationship between Maya and Miles and intersperses some absolutely gorgeous California vineyard country backdrop against the rest of the film.

Maybe you just need to be a guy to truly enjoy it, maybe the discussions and the frustrations between the two main characters (don’t think for a minute that anyone else owns this movie other than Giamatti and Church) are only truly understood through a man’s viewpoint. I only gave it 4 stars, because, yeah it WAS slow in a few spots.

Overall though, great film. Just as good as I expected and definitely worth the price of admission.

posted Sun, 02-06-05


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