The repeated attempts to turn "Bottle Shock" into a broad comedy or at least a broader one than it probably should be do leave a bad aftertaste.
After all, there's a good germ of a concept that's been buried under layers of bad "Hollywood" storytelling. Rather than tell it in a straightforward fashion, the filmmakers decided to go in a more lighthearted direction, with cliched, predictable plotting and dimwitted humor.
"Bottle Shock" is a somewhat fictionalized account of the so-called "Judgment of Paris," a still-discussed, mid-1970s wine contest that pitted French and American vineyards against each other. (The event finally brought some long-overdue respect to North American vintners.)
Chris Pine ("Blind Dating") stars as Bo Barrett, the son of Jim Barrett (Bill Pullman), a Napa Valley farmer and winemaker who's been trying for years to create a product that will rival that of his European competition.
But Bo would rather try to seduce Sam (Rachael Taylor), the pretty new vineyard intern, than learn anything about the family business from his father.
Meanwhile, Steven Spurrier (Alan Rickman) is trying to find a way to save his struggling wine shop in Paris. His American expatriate pal, Maurice (Dennis Farina), suggests that he at least examine some California-made products.
Co-screenwriter/director Randall Miller certainly takes his time building up to the re-creation of 1976 blind-tasting contest. He also invests too much in the boring, will-they-or-won't-they? romance between the characters played by Taylor and Pine, who's wearing a ridiculous blond wig.
Frankly, the droll Rickman is the most watchable thing about the movie. A subplot dealing with Bo's wine-savvy buddy (Freddy Rodriguez) has its moments, too, but isn't given enough time to come to its fruition."Bottle Shock" is rated PG-13 for scattered strong profanity (including one usage of the so-called "R-rated" curse word), some mostly comic violence (a brief scuffle and some boxing), some suggestive language and references, brief drug content and references (marijuana), slurs and derogatory language based on race and nationality, and some brief sexual contact. Running time: 106 minutes.
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