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Branson Family Trip

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Reviewed on 2005-02-14
Received[3]  out of 4 stars
GenreAdventure / Comedy / Drama
This unusual title refers to practice of storing non-sparkling wine on its side. Just the opposite for sparkling wine, you store it upright. This buddy travel movie follows Paul Giamatti and Thomas Haden Church through the wine country. Paul is the quiet wine expert who lives a sheltered life, and Tom is the extrovert actor who is heading for his wedding, but seems intent on whooping it up with every girl who crosses his path.

You really get an education as Paul travels from winery to winery explaining key facts about the fine art of wine making and consumption. Director Alexander Payne and writer Jim Taylor have loaded this film with characters you can sink your teeth into.

Our central character is Miles (Giamatti) who is a failed novelist and middle school English teacher who also happens to be a wine expert. He comes across as a depressed loser having been divorced and unable to get a book published. He perks up to the subject of wine.

His traveling companion is Jack (Church), an old college buddy and minor actor who is getting married. While Miles mopes around on the road trip, Jack lives it up getting drunk and chasing women. Miles meets Maya (another wine lover) who seems attracted to him leading us to think there is hope for Miles.

We get an interesting tour through the wine country and a look at the boys and their escapades. This is more fun than most art films and should be a legitimate Oscar contender.

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