Days of Wine and Sandra Oh

So I finally saw Alexander Payne's little wine country romp. It took me long enough, given that I like Payne's other work, and it seemed Paul Giamatti was finally getting the notices he deserved. Plus there's always the pure curiousity of what a title like Sideways could mean.

Miles (Giamatti) picks up his soon-to-be-wed friend Jack for a week in California wine country before the wedding. Miles really appreciates the finer points of wine. Jack simply wants one last week of pure freedom before trying the knot. They're both losers of a sort. Miles still hasn't gotten over his divorce. Jack is a ball of selfish narcissism barely masked by his buoyant personality.

And... well, they have middle-aged adventures of the sort that fit into this kind of quirky semi-comedy. Love interests appear, to which they both react in the wrong way - perfectly in character, of course, but so situationally bad.

It would be wrong to get much more into the plot than that. Outside a couple cheap laughs, the comedy is character-driven. Jack is just annoying enough that I stayed on the edge of sympathy for him. And just as I wanted to kick Miles into action, he pulls just enough out of his depression to keep moving. It's one of those buddy pictures where the friendship wouldn't make sense anymore if it wasn't such a cataclysm of opposites. The characters are genuinely interesting to watch.

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