How do, friends. I'm back on the couch and flipping through my myriad streaming services to bring you the highlights of wine-related media. Last weekend I watched Wine Country on Netflix in the US with my best friend from high school, Constant Reader A.
This being a pandemic and all -- and also because she lives in South Carolina, and I don't -- watching a movie "with" someone is a bit different. We fired up the movie on our respective Netflixes and she texted me with "Go!" So it's more of a spiritual "with."
The film is the directorial debut of SNL and Parks & Recreation icon Amy Poehler (whose "Really?! With Seth and Amy" clips also never fail to delight me). It was written by former SNL writers Jenny Spivey, who co-stars as Jenny, and Liz Cackowski, who appears as a somewhat snarky sommelier. The cast are all SNL veterans. But luckily for us, this is a lot funnier than a lot of recent SNL.
The story isn't very complex. The characters, who all met in the '90s working together in a Chicago pizza place, gather for a wine trip to Napa Valley to celebrate Rebecca's (Rachel Dratch) 50th birthday. Soon after we meet the group, we know that Poehler's wound-up Abby will be disappointed when everyone isn't thrilled with her meticulous minute-to-minute itinerary. We know Rebecca is going to stop deflecting birthday talk and freak out over her milestone. We know Maya Rudolph's Naomi is hiding some kind of health crisis and will finally tearfully confess it.
But because I guarantee these friends are way funnier than your friends, it all unfolds with good humor and affection. Everyone smirks a little at Abby's itinerary, Val's crush on a way younger waitress, and Jenny's fear of...everything, but none of it is really mean-spirited. The movie was inspired by an actual wine country trip the real-life friends made for Dratch's own 50th birthday, and their long-time rapport permeates the film, much like an oak barrel enhances a cabernet sauvignon. (Metaphors! You know I love 'em.)
Wine, and the biggest glasses I have ever seen, appears in vast quantities throughout, but there's not much actual delving into Napa history or how it's made. At one point, a character says, "God, they really like talking about wine here, don't they?" much to the confusion of the poor sommelier. And if you feel cheated that there's not enough wine lore in a Netflix comedy, I say to you, really? More drinking, less thinking, please.
This movie is definitely geared toward a certain demographic of mostly white American women. And my friend A. and I are slap dab in that demographic, so we really enjoyed it. I chimed in with the 80s and 90s soundtrack, and their ability to turn a phrase into a theme song five minutes after hearing it spoke to me on a deep level. Also, God, it's just nice to see a movie that celebrates female friendships and women over 25, while strolling through vineyards and sipping massive glasses of chardonnay.
So if you're in my same demo, until you can actually make your own plans for a trip to wine country, grab your best friend, either for real or virtually. Fire up the movie. Have a few humongous glasses of wine. Tell your friend you're proud AF of her. And have fun. Really!