4 out of 5 stars (one of the best I’ve seen this year)
This review was requested by Drew Henry. Thanks for being a good friend and supporter.
I am not a wine connoisseur. I’ve had a few glasses here and there, but outside of a delicious Francis Ford Coppola brand I shared with a close college friend, I don’t generally partake in wine. Therefore, when Bottle Shock, a 2008 film starring the late great Alan Rickman, revealed itself to be about the world of wineries, I was unsure if it would grab me. However, the longer it progressed, the more Bottle Shock charmed me with its likable characters, offbeat story, and sly humor. In a year full of downs, Bottle Shock is a surefire pick-me-up.
In 1976, British wine snob Steven Spurrier (Alan Rickman) is desperate to diversify the wines in his shop and obtain more customers. At the suggestion of his friend Maurice (Dennis Farina), Steven devises a blind tasting contest, heading to Napa Valley in California for potential participants. Once there, he encounters winemakers Bo and Jim Barrett (Chris Pine and Bill Pullman), who could use a financial boost. Bo, his friend Gustavo (Freddy Rodriguez) and intern Sam (Rachael Taylor) tag along with Steven as he finds contestants before the big event in Paris that will determine all their futures.
Bottle Shock is like wine: It takes awhile to settle, but the wait is worth it. Alan Rickman is a perfect wine snob while still being likable, Chris Pine does surprisingly well as the wild-haired ne-r do-well, and Bill Pullman gives his best performance to date. The story (based on real events) is fascinating and surprisingly palatable given its subject, and the humor is consistently funny. Bottle Shock is a hidden gem with enjoyable characters, clever humor, and a story off the beaten path from most biopics that deserves more attention. Pick up this Bottle and have a swig.
Rated PG-13 for Brief Strong Language, Some Sexual Content, and A Scene of Drug Use.