Sideways (Widescreen Edition) (2005)

A movie directed by Alexander Payne

< read all 15 reviews

A Local's Take on 'Sideways'

  • Jul 30, 2009
I've eaten at the Hitching Post, AJ Spurs, and Los Olivos cafe, drank at Kalyra and Firestone wineries, seen the ostrich farm, had breakfast at the Solvang restaurant, slept at the Days Inn with the windmill and been to more wine festivals in the Santa Ynez Valley than I can keep straight. And, believe it or not, I did all of that before the movie "Sideways" was released.

THE PREMIER: So when I went to the film's premier in Santa Barbara and watched so many of the Valley's spots parade across the big screen, I thought the whole movie was an inside joke. I didn't think for one second that it would resonate with anyone beyond this community. I was wrong. An Oscar nomination? I was totally wrong.

When I first saw the movie, I was amused by seeing familiar places, but I wasn't that impressed with the story. Fundamentally, the main characters are unlikable. (They're even less likable in the novel.)Because they're such self-absorbed, shallow people, I didn't really care about whether they got their happy ending.
When I saw it again (and again), it grew on me. I saw little ways in which it was truly clever. I accepted that even if it was showing the exagerrated ugly side of people, it was showing something fundamentally true and offering these pathetic characters a little salvation. And, it was funny.

SIDEWAYS AFTERMATH: What you don't see in the movie is what happened in the Santa Ynez Valley afterwards. The place got flooded with people trying to re-create Sideways. Merlot sales dropped. It was hard to get reservations at the Hitching Post. Signs went up in front of tasting rooms boasting "As seen in Sideways!" People actually drank from or poured out spit buckets. It was a great boost for tourism, but also a bit of a nuisance.

  • There's another Hitching Post restaurant off the beaten path in Casmalia. It's the original, and it's worth the drive.
  • Don't go running into anyone's vineyard.
  • Pick up a picnic lunch at the Los Olivos Grocery and take it to a pretty tasting spot with a deck like Rusack or Lincourt.
  • Try the aebleskivers
  • Taste at the Ballard Inn

What did you think of this review?

Fun to Read
Post a Comment
March 18, 2010
Great review. I couldn't agree with you more about how unlikeable the characters are. That being said, I love this movie. As a long-time (pre Sideways) fan of the area, I loved seeing all the familiar spots. I'm getting nostalgic for the Santa Ynez. Valley as we speak. I haven't been up there in a while. I actually stayed at the Ballard Inn for my wedding. Great tips. Have you tried the new Petros restaurant at the Fess Parker Resort? Petros is one of my favorite restaurants in Manhattan Beach and he just opened up one in Los Olivos.
March 18, 2010
I really wasn't a fan of the movie at all, but it's fun to visit some of those spots... just don't make me go near Solvang...
March 18, 2010
How dare you say bad things about Solvang. As the husband of a Dane, I take personal offense. I mean, where else do you get your Ableskivers and herring?
January 03, 2010
I enjoyed reading your review, trailblazer. I'm a local like you and had the pleasure of being an extra in some Los Olivos and Solvang scenes. I agree, it was a lot of fun seeing the local sites (if I didn't live here, I'd want to visit it because of the beautiful vineyard photography!) but I wasn't thrilled with the story itself. And the tourism created by the movie is just crazy. In my opinion, good for business but silly.
July 31, 2009
A Sideways tour sounds like a blast! I really don't want to believe that people drank from spit buckets though. That is repulsive!
July 30, 2009
I really like Merlot...Sideways be dammed. Great review!
More Sideways (2005) reviews
review by . December 27, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
**** out of ****      Before I start things off, let me briefly discuss the art of illusion. You may go into "Sideways" thinking that it is a film about wine. However, the truth is that it is not a film about wine. Not strictly. It does INVOLVE wine, but never does it fixate solely upon it. Actually, "Sideways" never feels safe when it comes to focusing at one thing at a time, and that's why the end result is beautiful, moving, heartfelt, and hilarious. …
Quick Tip by . August 10, 2010
Just an awesome movie and a great introduction to Pinot Noir and the Santa Barbara wine scene, in general!
Quick Tip by . April 05, 2010
This movie became an instant "classic" and a must see for enophiles everywhere!
review by . August 16, 2008
posted in Movie Hype
Sideways is a buddy movie about two flawed buddies who go off on a wine-tasting adventure in lieu of a bachelor party. The story is more melancholic than comic as the buddies each bump up against their disappointments and failures.   There are lots of reasons to watch this film. The acting is masterful, Sandra Oh is delectable and the scenery is-for most of us-a delight.What sets this movie up for a special place in my heart is one great wine joke.    There's a scene …
review by . March 26, 2006
Tonight had been the first time I seen this film and the reason why it took me so long to see this film was because it wasn't high on my "Must See List." At the end of this film I quite enjoyed it and for many reasons. One may be that I will never see a commemorative Sideways bottle of wine or the Sideways happy meal at McDonald's. My point is that Sideways is a great movie and nothing more. It doesn't rely on blockbuster star power. It doesn't need flashy special effects or gimmicks. Paul Giammatti …
review by . October 16, 2005
posted in Movie Hype
Pros: See Review     Cons: See Review     The Bottom Line: My recommendation: grab your mate, a couple of glasses, a chilled bottle of wine, a block of Colby cheese and settle down in front of the tube and watch Sideways.     Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie''s plot. Movies that delve deeply into the muck of human emotion and drama usually do not interest me much; I tend to watch movies for escapism; in other …
review by . February 02, 2005
Pros: acting, script, direction, humor     Cons: too long, main characters unlikable     The Bottom Line: It's a good year for Sideways.     By the time I got around to seeing Sideways, it had garnered so much praise that I was bound to be disappointed. Alexander Payne’s script (adapted from the novel by Rex Pickett) and direction are excellent, but the film is about twenty minutes too long, and the characters, while entertaining, aren’t …
About the reviewer

Ranked #1
Alternate motto would be "Eat dessert first."
Consider the Source

Use Trust Points to see how much you can rely on this review.

Your ratings:
rate more to improve this
About this movie


WithSideways, Paul Giamatti (American Splendor,Storytelling) has become an unlikely but engaging romantic lead. Struggling novelist and wine connoisseur Miles (Giamatti) takes his best friend Jack (Thomas Haden Church,Wings) on a wine-tasting tour of California vineyards for a kind of extended bachelor party. Almost immediately, Jack's insatiable need to sow some wild oats before his marriage leads them in into double-dates with a rambunctious wine pourer (Sandra Oh,Under the Tuscan Sun) and a recently divorce waitress (Virginia Madsen,The Hot Spot)--and Miles discovers a little hope that he hasn't let himself feel in a long time.Sidewaysis a modest but finely tuned film; with gentle compassion, it explores the failures, struggles, and lowered expectations of mid-life. Giamatti makes regret and self-loathing sympathetic, almost sweet. From the director ofElectionandAbout Schmidt.--Bret Fetzer

On the DVD
Stars Paul Giamatti and Thomas Haden Church have an absolute blast on their commentary track, gleefully ripping themselves, fawning over "La Madsen," and recalling "that bad fake wine we had to drink a lot of." Director Alexander Payne dismisses the seven deleted scenes (about 17 minutes total) as "meager offerings," and it's true that there are no gems. But even better than the scenes themselves might be Payne's text introductions, which offer insight into his editing process. Each scene is surrounded by brief bits from the ...
view wiki


Director: Alexander Payne
MPAA Rating: R
DVD Release Date: April 5, 2005
Runtime: 126 minutes
Studio: 20th Century Fox
© 2014, LLC All Rights Reserved - Relevant reviews by real people.
California's Central Coast Wine Scene is part of the Network - Get this on your site
This is you!
Ranked #
Last login
Member since