Sideways (2004)

sideways poster 2004 movie
9.5 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 10/10
Visuals: 9/10

Great acting, great scenery

Subtle movie is not for everyone

Movie Info

Movie Name: Sideways

Studio: Fox Searchlight

Genre(s): Drama/Comedy/Romance

Release Date(s): October 22, 2004

MPAA Rating: R

sideways no merlot paul giamatti thomas haden church

No Merlot!!!

Jack Cole (Thomas Hayden Church) is getting married and living off his fame as a former soap star. He’s demanding an all out final weekend from his best man and best friend Miles Raymond (Paul Giamatti). Miles got problems. He’s an aspiring writer with a book that keeps being rejected and keeps growing. He’s dealing with feelings for his ex-wife Victoria (Jessica Hecht) and can’t seem to connect with anyone. When Miles takes Jack to Wine Country, Jack decides to meet and seduce a woman named Maya (Sandra Oh). Forced to keep Jack’s lie, Miles finds himself falling in love with Maya’s friend Stephanie (Virginia Madsen). What will happen when Maya and Stephanie learn the truth?

Directed by Alexander Payne, Sideways is an adaptation of the 2004 novel by Rex Pickett.  The film was released to positive reviews and received an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay with nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actress (Madsen), and Best Supporting Actor (Church).

sideways paul giamatti virginia madsen

The exact moment you realize you f-ed up…

Sideways follows the trend of “smart” comedies.  It is a comedy for adults where the humor is in the writing and the style of the film.  It has a bit of Woody Allen in that sense, but it also takes a West Coast approach to Allen’s style which is very different in tone than many of Allen’s classic New York stories.

The actual story in Sideways is very minimal. It isn’t very plot driven and has long periods of talking. The jokes aren’t fart jokes and the humor is (in general) really building and subtle. One frustrating aspect to some is that the movie kind of ends…very little resolution is shown, and it remains unclear what is in the future for the characters.

Sideways is an actor’s movie. All four major actors in the movie are great. The minimal script does allow for these great moments of conversation. It is also very convincing talking. When Giamatti’s character talks about Pinot noir the sales went up…likewise when he insulted Merlot, the sales went down. It works because all the characters give themselves to the roles.  He does have a bit of Woody Allen sad sack to him and it was a tragedy that he wasn’t nominated for his performance.  The movie helped Giamatti to be shown as one of the better actors in Hollywood, revealed that Thomas Hayden Church could be more than a Wings star, helped launch Sandra Oh, and restored Virginia Madsen to the screen.

sideways thomas haden church broken nose paul giamatti

This bachelor weekend rocks so far.

The movie is wrapped in the great scenery of California.  Though it is a wine movie and Paul Giamatti is a “wine snob” in the film, they don’t go to the popular Napa Valley wine country but the wine country just north of Santa Barbara…which seems to contradict his wine snob role since Napa is generally considered wine country proper…still, the location looks inviting and makes you want to travel there.

Sideways is a great movie, but it isn’t for everyone. Don’t go into the movie expecting a rip-roaring comedy. It is almost more drama and than comedy, but it also shows there is comedy in life. The romance is more than just between people. It is about the love of life. Just remember…no Merlot!

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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