"Effervescent, but Slightly Sour"
BOTTLE SHOCK is a beautifully filmed and delightfully written historical retelling of the small American winery, Chateau Montelena, that sent shock waves through the wine industry by besting the exalted French wines in a blind tasting, putting California wines on the map for good.
Set in 1976 with strong Romantic and capitalist elements, the story focuses on the contentious relationship between headstrong perfectionist Jim Barrett (played by Bill Pullman) and his free-spirited, irresponsible son Bo (Chris Pine). For all their differences, the two share a dream of creating the perfectly handcrafted California Chardonnay.
Meanwhile in Paris, struggling British wine seller Steven Spurrier (Alan Rickman) decides to arrange a wine tasting contest in France as a means of creating publicity to help his floundering shop. He travels to Napa Valley in search of a more diverse selection of wines that would rival the French wines he sells in his shop.
Spurrier is surprised by the quality of wines he encounters in the Northern California wine country, among them Barrett’s Chardonnay. But Barrett, put off by Spurrier’s snobbish attitude, refuses to participate in the contest. Meanwhile, Bo starts soul-searching after a beautiful intern named Sam (Rachael Taylor) spurns his advances in favor of his best friend, budding vintner Gustavo (Freddy Rodriguez). Stung by her initial rejection, he resolves to turn around his reputation as an ambitionless loser.
Against his father’s wishes, Bo delivers two bottles of Chateau Montelena Chardonnay to Spurrier for the contest, just as the wine salesman is about to board a plane back to Paris. This action angers the elder Barrett, but he is far more devastated when he discovers that his entire vintage, though exceptional in taste, has mysteriously turned brown. Feeling like a failure, he decides to have the discolored wine hauled away, quit the business and beg for his old job back where he worked as an attorney. But, when Sam looks up a viniculturist who explains that the discoloration is a rare but temporary condition as a result of the Montelena winemaker’s perfectionism, the race is on for Bo and Sam to tell Barrett the good news before the wine gets dumped and their business falls into the hands of its creditors.
BOTTLE SHOCK contains many commendable elements in regards to the production with the exquisite camera shots of the Napa Valley vineyards and the quality of the musical composition. The music and the scenery significantly help the story to move along without boring the audience. Other commendable elements are the character portrayals done by Bill Pullman and Alan Rickman. Pullman gives a stirring performance as Jim Barrett, a man who gave up everything in his life to follow his dream of creating quality wine and a profitable vineyard. Sadly, Barrett’s headstrong ways drive a wedge in his relationship with his son and with one of his employees, Gustavo, but the ending resolves these conflicts. Barrett also rebukes his son’s immoral actions and challenges him to make something of himself. Alan Rickman convincingly portrays Spurrier, an intelligent British snob whose assumptions about American life and winemaking are greatly challenged.
Overall, BOTTLE SHOCK is delightfully entertaining. It is marred, however, by some unnecessary language and mild sexual references. Also, the growth of the characters throughout the movie leaves viewers wanting to see more. The characters feel one-dimensional, making it difficult for viewers to truly relate to them. The “love” triangle between Gustavo, Sam and Bo does little to enhance the overall quality of the movie, but rather detracts from it. The filmmakers were probably hoping it would make the story more appealing to a wider audience. Finally, BOTTLE SHOCK has some lying, racism and prejudice that are for the most part ultimately resolved.
(RoRo, CapCapCap, P, B, LLL, V, S, N, AA, DD, M) Strong Romantic worldview with very strong capitalist element and light pro-American content, where main protagonist tries to achieve his dreams through his own means, mixed with light moral elements where father rebukes his son’s immoral actions; 25 obscenities, three strong profanities and three light profanities; two men engage in bouts of boxing to relieve their frustrations with their business and with each other, brief fist fight; mild sexual references includes implied fornication, woman’s breasts are briefly discussed, passionate kissing, woman gives two different men kisses on the cheek, men suggestively eye woman in wet clothing; implied female nudity as a woman is seen from behind when she flashes a police officer two times and two women wear revealing blouses; brief scene of young adults drunk at party, mild alcohol use in a bar scene, multiple wine tasting with the focus being on the cultivation and perfection of fine wines; smoking depicted in bar scene and brief drug use depicted with a bong; and, lying, racism, prejudice, disrespect.
BOTTLE SHOCK is a beautifully filmed and delightfully written historical retelling of the small American winery, Chateau Montelena, that sent shock waves through the French wine industry. Set in 1976 with strong Romantic and capitalist elements, the story focuses on the contentious relationship between headstrong perfectionist Jim Barrett (played by Bill Pullman) and his free-spirited, irresponsible son Bo (Chris Pine). For all their differences, the two share a dream of creating the perfectly handcrafted California Chardonnay. They get involved in a wine contest sponsored by a snobbish British wine seller, played by Alan Rickman.
The movie contains many commendable elements. First, the production includes exquisite camera shots of the Napa Valley vineyards in Calif. The music is also of high quality. Both significantly help the story to move along without boring the audience. Other commendable elements are the performances by Bill Pullman and Alan Rickman. Overall, BOTTLE SHOCK is delightfully entertaining. It is spoiled, however, by unnecessary foul language and light sexual references. Also, the characters feel one-dimensional, making it difficult for viewers to relate. Finally, the movie has some lying, racism and prejudice that are, for the most part, positively resolved.