Director: Alexander Payne
Writer: Alexander Payne, Jim Taylor
Starring: Paul Giamatti, Thomas Haden Church, Patrick Gallagher, Alex Kalognomos
Released: January 27, 2005
Rating: (M)
Runtime: 124 minutes
Story: Writer-director Alexander Payne's fourth feature film (following "Citizen Ruth", "Election" and "About Schmidt") starts with two old friends setting off on a wine-tasting road trip . . . only to veer dizzily into a wry exploration of the vicissitudes of love and friendship, the damnable persistence of loneliness and dreams and the enduring war between Pinot and Cabernet.
The misadventures begin when Miles (Paul Giamatti), an un-recovered divorcee and would-be novelist with a wine fixation, decides to gift old college buddy and washed-up actor Jack (Thomas Haden Church) with a celebratory trip to the vineyards of the Santa Ynez Valley the week before Jack's wedding. The two couldn't be an odder couple. Jack is an over-sexed charmer; Miles is a sad-sack worrier. Jack is looking for his 'last taste of freedom'; Miles just wants to taste perfection in a bottle. Jack is fine with cheap Merlot; Miles pines for the elusive, perfect Pinot. Indeed, the only thing they seem to share in common is the same heady mix of failed ambitions and fading youth.
And yet, as they make their way up the coast, Miles and Jack soon find themselves drowning in wine and women. Jack falls head-over-heels for a local wine pourer (Sandra Oh) and threatens to call off his nuptials. Miles begins his own romantic encounter with a wine-savvy waitress (Virginia Madsen). Both men careen dangerously and comically toward mid-life crises.
Now, the wedding approaches and with it the certainty that Miles and Jack won't make it back to Los Angeles unscathed or unchanged . . . if they get back there at all.
Paul Giamatti Miles Raymond
Thomas Haden Church Jack
Virginia Madsen Maya
Sandra Oh Stephanie
Marylouise Burke Miles' Mother
Jessica Hecht Victoria
Missy Doty Cammi
M.C. Gainey Cammi's Husband
Alysia Reiner Christine Erganian
Shake Tukhmanyan Mrs. Erganian
Duke Moosekian Mike Erganian
Robert Covarrubias Mike's Building Manager
Patrick Gallagher Gary the Bartender
Stephanie Faracy Stephanie's Mother
Joe Marinelli Frass Canyon Pourer