WINE COUNTRY. Directed by Amy Poehler. With Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, Maya Rudolph, Rachel Dratch, Ana Gasteyer, Paula Pell and Emily Spivey. Netflix.
KAREN RUTTER reviews
What do you get when a gang of Saturday Night Live alumni make a movie together? A sassy production that pulls in some of the funniest women writing and acting in TV and movie comedy shows, that’s what. Wine Country has a bunch of my favourite female comedians on board, and while they’re working with a familiar format – the old weekend-away-to-celebrate-a-birthday-with-old-friends blueprint – they clearly have fun doing it.
Rebecca (Rachel Dratch) is turning 50, so uber-organiser Abby (Amy Poehler) has set up a stay in Napa Valley with a posse of pals who all used to waitress at the same pizza joint, back in the day. Catherine (Ana Gasteyer), Naomi (Maya Rudolph), Val (Paula Pell) and Jenny (Emily Spivey) get on board, and soon they’re saying cheers in a swanky guest house owned by the no-nonsense Tammy (Tina Fey).
This being something of a chick-flick, of course each woman has brought a bit of baggage with her (a lost job, an a-hole husband, an eating disorder), but thankfully the film doesn’t get too weighed down in this stuff. The fun happens when the gals go wine tasting. And more wine-tasting. And even more wine tasting. Until inevitably, things start going a little crazy.
It’s the ridiculousness of the situations that make the film funny, from middle-aged lip synching moves to dealing with a snake bite to discussing whether or not to do drugs. Some of it feels improvised, and those are the best parts.
But there is also an unfortunate obligatory-feel-good angle that neutralises a lot of what could be smack down hilarious. Remember the bathroom scene in Bridesmaids? Well, there isn’t one here. Which is a shame, because these are six feisty 50-somethings (or close to) with a rep for feminist humour and not giving a shit. You want them to get a little more down and dirty, because you know they can do it. Instead, we have a series of what feels like teachable moments, whether lecturing millennials or getting medical results. And they’re not really that funny.
So … a great line-up, some hilarious moments, but overall the feeling of something missed, simply because this is a powerhouse ensemble who’ve all been really good at delivering the comedic goods for at least two decades.
Don’t dismiss it though – if you’ve got Netflix, line it up for an evening when you just want to put your feet up and glug a big glass of wine or two. It’ll go down smoothly, that’s at least for sure.
What: Wine Country