November 30, 2004

Outgrowing Payne

Alexander Payne’s “Sideways” was released about a month ago, and as of now I’m yet to read a negative review of it (it’s currently at a 97 on Rotten Tomatoes). Yet I still found the film quite overrated, just as I did Payne’s previous film, “About Schmidt.”

Yes, it had some funny moments, and yes the performances were excellent. But my problems with “Sideways” were threefold: the characters were irredeemably unlikable; the last 40 minutes could’ve been squeezed into 10 minutes; and I thought the “brilliant scene” that everyone loved (Paul Giamatti and Virginia Madsen’s wine-as-life-metaphor chat) was trite, as well as false as hell.

I’ve heard “Sideways” compared to “Swingers,” except that it’s about middle-aged men instead of 20-somethings. “Swingers” is among my very favorite movies of all time, yet I didn’t quite relate the same way to “Sideways.” Maybe check back with me when I’m 50.

Posted by Stephen Silver at November 30, 2004 11:51 PM

"Sideways" was a well acted film, it was amusing at times, and if you've ever known a wine or food snob, it is true to life.
As for your assessment of the "brilliant scene", talk to a wine lover and you'll see that its about as true as it gets, and Giamatti's character's awkward moments after Madsen's character's description of why she loves wines was true to his character's form.

I too agree that you need to be at a different stage in your life to truly appreciate this film, but I did feel it was well made and will probably age like a fine wine for those of us still too young to appreciate it.

Posted by: Dan at December 1, 2004 12:01 PM
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