Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Movie Log: Bottle Shock

Whenever I see a movie based on a true story, I always wonder just how much is "true story" and how much is "based on." About midway through Bottle Shock, when the blond girl inexplicably starts ignoring the brown-skinned guy (whom she'd previously liked better, and even slept with) to take up with the dull-witted blond guy, I started to have the suspicion that this movie is very much the Hollywood Version of the famous-to-wine-snobs "Judgment of Paris."

And that's OK, I guess. Especially if that's what actually happened in real life. But I do get tired of seeing characters color-coded quite that blatantly, and used for silly plot complications.

Otherwise, Bottle Shock is a loose-limbed movie, half about Steven Spurrier (Alan Rickman), a British wine merchant in Paris who tried to drum up business with a France-versus-California blind tasting, and half about the travails of one of those California wineries, run by Jim Barrett (Bill Pullman). Barrett has a ne'er-do-well son, Bo (Chris Pine), a chip-on-his-shoulder Latino right-hand man, and a new young female intern. (Who is the one I alluded to in the first paragraph; the son and the Latino whatever-you-call-a-guy-who-is-the-#2-in-a-winery are the boys who jockey for her affections as the movie requires a love interest.) Spurrier spends most of the movie in California, scouting for the contest, and Bo comes back to Paris with him for the tasting, so the two plots do overlap and intersect a lot...but they don't exactly combine.

Bottle Shock has a number of events that I found hard to swallow as things that happened in real life -- perhaps they did, but they weren't made convincing here. It's neither a particularly bad nor a particularly good movie; just one that takes its purportedly true story, runs it through the homogenization machine that is Hollywood, and decants the palatable result into a very old bottle indeed.

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