In 1976 California vineyards weren’t taken too seriously much to the chagrin of winemakers like Jim and Bo Barrett at Chateau Montelena in the Napa Valley. In Paris, wine store owner Steven Spurrier’s business is failing due to the snobbery of French wine elite and the British-born Spurrier decides to convince the French wine academy to hold a blind tasting between French and California wines in order to bolster his business and improve his reputation. However, once Spurrier arrives in California to select the wines for competition he not only has to deal with the distrust of the local vineyards but somehow process the fact that these California wines are much better than he expected them to be.
Honestly, I knew nothing about Bottle Shock going in besides it made it into Sundance a year or two ago, and starred Chris Pine. I netflixed it because I was interested in seeing Chris Pine outside of Star Trek and Princess Diaries 2. I loved this movie. I have wanted to watch it a second time ever since I resealed the Netflix envelope.
Perhaps what surprised me is that the film is funny. I would not be surprised if it turns out that 90% of Bottle Shock is fiction but it’s so well written and about a unique enough event that I don’t care. Bottle Shock is a well made dramedy that mixes a lot of storylines together to complete one meaningful, thought out film that had a lot less attention than it deserved. The cast in the film is superb, made of mostly unknowns at the time and added some credibility with the talents of Bill Pullman, Alan Rickman & a bit part by Dennis Farina.
It was a bit startling to watch Chris Pine, now known as the rebellious but clean cut Capt. Kirk as a long haired, lazy, hippie. Pine and Pullman play the main roles as father and son and manage to have a very good chemistry together and are a good representation of father and son. Bottle Shock is a period piece even if it isn’t set too many centuries back, and director Randall Miller managed to encapsulate the generational disparities very well using Jim (Pullman) and Bo (Pine) to show this most profoundly and in a very relatable way.
I have to compliment Miller on Bottle Shock. Call me a bad Californian, a bad American, or just too young but I never knew about the Judgment in Paris before this film; I don’t think I would have cared if I had read about it in a text book or on the back of a wine bottle. However, Bottle Shock is a dang entertaining and well made film that has me desiring to find a bottle of the Cheateau Montelena chardonnay, learn more about wine, and visit the Napa Valley. I think that’s probably an earmark of a good film.
Director: Randall Miller
Writers: Jody Savin, Randall Miller & Ross Schwartz
Bo Barrett: Chris Pine
Steven Spurrier: Alan Rickman
Jim Barrett: Bill Pullman
Sam: Rachel Taylor
Gustavo Brambila: Freddy Rodriguez
Maurice: Dennis Farina
Joe: Eliza Dushku
Jim Barrett: Why don't I like you?
Steven Spurrier: Because you think I'm an arsehole. And I'm not, really. I'm just British and, well... you're not.