“Wine Country” is the Netflix exclusive, directorial debut for the comedic Amy Poehler. With a star studded cast, including the usual teaming with Tina Fey (Mean Girls, 30 Rock, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt), this film follows a group of friends as they enjoy a wine-fuelled girls weekend in Napa Valley to celebrate Rebecca ‘sliding into 50’, played by Rachel Dratch (Sisters, Click, Saturday Night Live). Of course each friend has a secret they haven’t shared with the group, or feelings unexpressed, which are closer to coming to light with each glass of pinot consumed. The cast for this film is huge for a comedy of this style and includes Amy Poehler, Ana Gasteyer (Mean Girls, The Good Wife, Suburgatory The Goldbergs), Maya Rudolph (Big Mouth, Bridesmaids, The Good Place), Paula Pell (Big Mouth, Inside Out, 30 Rock) and Emily Spivey (who co-wrote the script with Liz Cackowski and has been a writer for Saturday Night Live).
In the lead up to this movie it was clear that these women are all very supportive and encouraging of each other. On red carpets through out the year they have frequently interviewed together and have spoken fondly of Amy Poehler’s ability to direct, commenting on how natural it seemed to her, and she has been humbled by the chance to both make a film and work with these women. It is nice to see something different on the screen, a film made by friends for friends that is fun. It isn’t a blockbuster, it doesn’t break any new ground or produce any comedic style we haven’t seen before but you can forgive it because it has heart. This largely matches my expectations going into this film which rested somewhere in the middle ground; on the one hand you have this huge cast of female actresses who frequently appear in comedic roles but on the other hand my taste in comedy tends to shy away from the silly, crude and slap-stick styles because I just don’t get it. This film finished in the middle ground for me too, there were some jokes that were a little too silly for me and there was a slight lull in the middle of the film which made way for character development but it did still offer enough laughs to sustain me, particularly from Tina Fey’s character.
At its heart Wine Country is a film about friends made with friends. In watching it it becomes clear that everyone involved enjoyed making this movie. It is fun and light, although at times it lulls in enjoyment for the viewer. The best way perhaps is to describe this movie as one you would watch on a rainy day, or late at night when you’re tired, can’t be bothered and don’t know what you want to watch. It is not groundbreaking and isn’t always as funny as I think it hoped to be but it has a place and time to be watched.
Two and a half birds out of five – Erin
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