Netflix has long been established as a respectable vessel for producing original content in pretty much every genre you can think of, but “Wine Country” made me more excited than anything previously released. It had everything I look for in a movie after a stress-filled week. The trailers made it seem, light, fun, and ultimately, predictable, which is exactly what I needed.
Before discussing specifics, I want to make it clear I was overall disappointed by how this film turned out. I know if I had watched it without seeing the trailer, my opinions would be different, and that’s the problem. This movie was packaged as something it wasn’t. From the trailer you’d believe this movie was going to have typical relationship bumps amongst friends, with an ultimately positive undertone.
That’s not at all what was delivered. I discuss the clear examples of where the movie deviated from its set path below. The main shift was tonally. Very little of the movie was actually just friends lounging around to drink in gorgeous Napa Valley. The movie rather built up underlying tensions between characters with all their baggage and the struggle of aging.
And let me tell you, that was not a fun escape from the world. As the film progressed, I became more and more high strung, just waiting for the conflicts to calm down.
The movie was hysterical, don’t get me wrong. There were several moments where I laughed out loud, especially in the beginning and when the characters were drunk. However, I realized this movie simply wasn’t made for me at about the time the true nature of the film was revealed.
The trailer made this out to be a sharp, witty comedy reminiscent of Bridesmaids or any of Tina Fey’s and Amy Poehler's past work. It turned out to be a cohesive, emotional story with some laugh out loud comedy thrown in, not something I’d expect from Poehler during her directorial debut, or really from this particular ensemble cast.
Therefore, I was disappointed about something that wasn’t even the direct fault of the film. That’s not to dismiss the flaws with doing that, but from a purely marketing perspective, I understand why this was done. They knew their lead actresses have a certain type of following, who would be attracted to the the more light, traditional comedies.
The only way to make sure those fans would still watch this movie, beyond loyalty to their beloved actresses, would be to fulfill understood expectations only to have them altered after the watching the movie, when it's already too late.
I was shocked by how much liberty was taken in terms of style. There was lots of instances where lighting and perspective were played around with. I’ve never taken the time in a comedy movie to actually notice these finer filmmaking details. Here, they somehow became relevant. I haven’t yet decided whether that makes the film better or worse.
On one hand, it’s great the Poehler took risks, despite audience expectations of her designated roles in movies. While her characters fit the archetypes of a dynamic, yet aging friendship group, her actresses’ performances didn't. Even Fey, who is known to always be in the spotlight for her dry, abrasive humor took on a new more backseat personality. All of these actresses have become attached to certain roles they consistently play, and that refreshingly deviated with “Wine Country.”
On the other hand, the risks take away from the simple greatness behind a talented ensemble cast with natural comedic timing. I could actually believe the friendships examined were real, for all parts of friendship were examined, ugly and redemptive.
This movie is by no means going to win any Oscars. The script is cliche and at time the overacting was painful to watch. Usually, with this genre of film, it’s understood the filmmakers don’t have any lofty expectations of their movie going down in the books. The movies exist to make people laugh for a couple of hours. Poehler tried to go beyond those unofficially recognized constraints to create something deeper, which simply didn’t work for me.
In short, don’t watch the trailer if you’re at all interested in watching this movie, Just don’t expect to leave it feeling the same levity that comes from most comedies. This movie breaches into darker emotions that create a more deep, troubled feeling. As long as you know what you’re not going to be getting out of “Wine Country,” it will adequately deliver.