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Sideways (Widescreen Edition) (2005)

A movie directed by Alexander Payne

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"Sideways"...Was a Little Sideways...And Not in a Good Way

  • Jul 12, 2009
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When Sideways first came out in 2004, I was still in High School and I didn't think I would have an appreciation for this kind of movie even though I had seen many thought provoking and deep films already.  The idea to watch Sideways now stemmed from having our Wine tasting party (which actually, was never watched then, and was probably a good thing now that I think about it).  Because ya know, here we thought that Sideways was a film that focused around a bunch of wine snobs...I mean drinkers.  Well, it isn't.  While Sideways does have a heavy amount of scenes with wine and wine being consumed, in no way is the movie about wine.  Instead the movie...all of its two hours, focuses on Paul Giamatti's character and his depression and mid-life crisis while also getting a good look at his best friend, played by Thomas Haden Church, and his womanizing ways.  No ladies and gentleman, this is not a movie to watch during a wine tasting as the movie is actually quite depressing and you should be happy while drinking your wine, not re-thinking your life.

When Miles (Giamatti) takes his best friend Jack (Church), a D-list actor, on his bachelor party (Bachelor Week in this case) to wine country, things go south when Miles, who is a divorce and un-published writer, decides to have his mid-life crisis.  The trip gets worse when Jack decides he wants one last "ride" as a bachelor and seduces Stephanie (Sandra Oh), a winery worker, but then falls in love with her.  Now as Miles is beginning to get to know Maya (Virginia Madsen), the woman who could possibly be the love of his life, he must also keep a very watchful eye on bachelor Jack, while also dealing with his depression and divorce.

Just from the synopsis you can tell that this movie truly has nothing to do wine and trust me...that's the synopsis.  Sideways is one of those movies that has a preview that makes the film look completely different than what it actually is which really annoys me.  Here we are thinking that this movie is a fun comedy about a bunch of people who share this common love for wine and take this tour through California's wine country, but instead we get this movie that's about this guy having a mid-life crisis who happens to know a lot about wine and his horny friend who can't keep it in his pants.  It's just one of those things that really erks me when a preview can be that deceiving.  I don't think I would have had a problem if the movie was still pretty decent, but it wasn't and I really have nothing good to say about it.

I'm not the biggest Paul Giamatti fan to start out, but this movie made me dislike him even more.  This was partly due to his constant whining throughout the film and the way he acted like a wine carnoisseur.  Yes, I could not stand his acting.  I'm sure a lot of these wine professionals act just like that, but I felt at points that I really wanted to just punch him in the face.  Giamatti wasn't complimented by Church either, he was just as bad.  You got to this point in the film where you were just like, 'enough already!'  We know you like women and that you want to have a lot of sex before you get married, but seriously, we get the point.  Even though some of this is not the actors fault, because there really was some bad writing, the acting was still just...bad.  I felt like Giamatti and Church were actually shown up by their supporting cast mates, Sandra Oh and Virginia Madsen.  I could have watched just those two talk about and rink wine for the whole movie and I would have been a much happier person. 

Sideways is saved by a few hilarious moments in the film.  For example when Miles goes and retrieves Jack's wallet from this waitress' house that jack slept with after he was chased away by her husband.  When Miles is running back to the car, he is persued by the fat naked...fully naked husband. It's a lot funnier on screen, trust me.  Another hilarious scene that you probably weren't meant to laugh at was when Stephanie beat the crap out of Jack with her helmet after she found out he was getting married.  That was pretty freakin funny.  Finally, despite the fact that Sideways really has nothing to do with wine, you get to learn a little bit about how your supposed to taste wine which I thought was kind of fun. 

How Sideways got nominated for Best Picture, I will never know, but it was not a good movie, not in the least.  Don't buy it, don't rent it, don't watch it on TV.  You'll just end up asking yourself why afterward.  Sideways would have benefited from a change of name, maybe something like, oh I don't know, The Mid-life Crisis!  A waste of time and very wrongly advertised, 1/5!

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July 12, 2009
I actually rather liked the film as a whole... but couldn't understand for the life of me why anyone would consider this "Best Picture" material. I did like it's thematic elements and all. But I do agree that the previews are a bit misleading. I was lucky enough not to actually see any of them. I heard about it from a friend. And when I saw it... yeah, I liked it. I thought the themes were nice, and how the road trip turned into something of a character study. But I seriously didn't think it was THAT great that it deserved all the awards it got.

Although, I should point out that the title in and of itself is a little thematic.  The book makes it FAR clearer what it actually means than the film.  But it has something to do with how our characters are on this trip and learn a bit about them on the side or something like that.  Get it?  Sideways? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!  Okay, in the end... not a very good title.
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. …
review by . July 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 …
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!
review by . January 02, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
How to Drink Wine the Pretentious Way
Director Alexander Payne (Election and About Schmidt) creates a mature, masterfully crafted comedy with his film Sideways. The film is rich in characterization and features stunning performances by its talented cast. When the film was released in 2004, it garnered critical praise and numerous award nominations. But all the hype aside, Sideways is a surprisingly engaging and intelligent comedy about two self-centered men, who learn that they need to grow up.          …
Quick Tip by . July 12, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
The actors all did a great job in this movie, but it was hard for me to totally get into since I'm not into wine. However, the film was entertaining.
review by . January 03, 2010
Teacher and would-be writer Miles (Paul Giamatti) takes his actor pal Jack (Thomas Hayden Church) on a trip to the California wine country to celebrate Jack's impending marriage.  Miles is a wine lover and wants to educate Jack on the best wines, while Jack just wants to sew his last wild oats.      This is a dramedy about ordinary people dealing with frustration, failure, and loneliness.  Giamatti plays the sad-sack loser well, but his character is weak and unremarkable …
Quick Tip by . April 05, 2010
This movie became an instant "classic" and a must see for enophiles everywhere!
Quick Tip by . December 19, 2009
Sideways would be insufferable were it not for the great performances of the two leads, who make it an affable trifle of a movie.
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 . May 28, 2006
"Sideways" has a fine premise for a movie: Two friends go traveling in Northern California to celebrate the freedom of bachelorhood before one of them gets married. Both have their own selfish interests and addictions: (One is addicted to alcohol [Paul Giamatti]; the other is addicted to sex [Thomas Hayden Church].) Their passions seem to be their only bond, for they increasingly separate from one another, each to pursue his own obsession. Their escapades reveal desperation for each and provide …
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Julian Brown ()
Ranked #34
Hi, my name is Julian Brown. I currently write for The Brotherly Game, a local Philadelphia soccer website where I cover the US Women's National Team and the local WPS Philadelphia Independence. I … more
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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 ...
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Director: Alexander Payne
MPAA Rating: R
DVD Release Date: April 5, 2005
Runtime: 126 minutes
Studio: 20th Century Fox
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