Who doesn’t love a good road trip movie? On second thought, who doesn’t love a good independent film? On third and final thought, who doesn’t love a good independent road trip film? Yes, back in 2004, 20th Century Fox rolled out the independent dramedy “Sideways” based off of a novel of the same name. The novel also came out in 2004. If it is good on the other hand, is a different story.
Miles Raymond (Paul Giomatti) is a writer that has just finished a novel. On one fateful day, he and his best friend, Jack (Thomas Haden Church) go on a road trip to Santa Ynez Valley Wine Country. On the way, they test out different bottles of wine and Miles displays his wine intellect, all the while Jack smiles and nods as if he knows what Miles is talking about. While Miles truly wants to go to the vineyard to relax and go to tastings, Jack simply likes to drink and wants to sleep with someone before his marriage.
Maya (Virginia Madsen) and Stephanie (Sandra Oh) join them later on in their journey. Initially, Miles was against having the girls join them because he was still hung up over his ex-wife Victoria (Jessica Hecht), but he warmed up to the idea of having them around. Before long, Miles’s long-needed trip of relaxation turns into the exact opposite.
Paul Giomatti has proven his acting abilities time and time again, and his abilities in this film don’t falter, but exactly how old is Thomas Haden Church, and why does he continue to think he can play childish and immature roles like this? I understand that they had to have conflicting personalities to make the movie more enjoyable, but something about his performance rubbed me the wrong way. Honestly, I believe if they were going to go the immature route, they could have easily picked a different actor for such, but there are other ways to have conflicting personalities while still using Hayden Church. I think that may have been a mistake. Yes, even though it is a major part of the movie, the script could have used another draft.
Towards the middle of the film, there is a sit down between Paul’s character and Virginia’s character where the audience may pick up on what could be understood as foreshadowing. He explains his book was a mess that switches around and has no real resolution. When I first heard that, I thought of all the other times a movie has foreshadowed and I got very worried, I typically don’t like a movie that has no resolution, it makes me feel like there was no point the entire time. However, as it turns out, that wasn’t a foreshadowing, and I can rest easy tonight.
The movie did a pretty good job at projecting the emotional distress people can go through after getting a divorce. Paul Giomatti portrayed a character going from emotional turmoil over his ex-wife to a man that is open to adaptation and allowing himself to be happy. In the long run, that story was done splendidly, but a lot of the movie washed that out as it focused more on Jack trying to get laid. Now, the movie may have needed this extra stress on Miles in order for him to accept change, and that is perfectly fine, but will the audience really pick up on that? I’m not so sure.
There are some funny moments in “Sideways”, but not as much as you might expect before watching it. It’s an okay film that had the potential to be something more. Alright, I’m finished whining about the movie on wine.