The new Netflix comedy Wine Country certainly won’t win any awards for most original movie title. It’s not exactly an original story idea, either. Trips to Napa Valley for wine-tastings have been the backdrop for many comedies, dramas, and dramedies (I hate dramedies, btw). You know they’re gonna drink. And talk. And fight. Rinse, repeat. Truthfully, I was expecting a little more when I saw who was starring in it.
Rachel Dratch, Maya Rudolph, Amy Poehler, and Ana Gasteyer are all funny women, having earned their comedy chops on Saturday Night Live before moving on to movies, most of which are funnier than Wine Country. It’s not completely without laughs, but most of the chuckles come from what the ladies say, and not so much what they do. Even though their SNL heydays are almost 20 years ago, we should still expect some zany physical comedy. We get a little bit of it near the end involving a grassy hill, but it’s ultimately not worth waiting for.
Anyway, the four ladies, plus friends Val and Jenny (former SNL writers Paula Pell and Emily Spivey) all follow the “one quirk apiece” formula: one’s a workaholic, one’s fastidious, one’s horned up, etc. And they all have secrets that lead to the inevitable squabbles and falling outs (fallings out?). Tarot card reader Lady Sunshine and house owner Tammy (played by Tina Fey) have these women all figured out.
Oh yeah, the other thing that they all are? They’re all jerks. I mean it; they act like a-holes toward everyone as well as to each other. Why book a getaway to Napa Valley’s wine country, if you’re gonna be disrespectful and dismissive, and complain that all they do is talk about wine? It’s Napa, ya cranky bitches. Even Amy Poehler’s character Abby is annoyed by the wine-related content, and the damn trip was her idea in the first place! They go to an art show and cuss out the patrons for being into art. They even verbally abuse a doctor for smiling when he tells them they aren’t going to die. Sure, their being sassy was kind of amusing at the beginning, but it continues throughout the movie, and becomes grating.
Lots of the gags go on longer than they should. Maya Rudolph’s character Naomi grabs a mic and proceeds to slur her way through a song that the jazz trio just happens to know. Abby stares blankly for an extended period of time before subverting our expectations. Jokes can wear out their welcome; whoever edited this film was not aware of that. And the “crude sexual content” consists of a single scene of Val passing out vibrators after the birthday dinner. Vanillas are so cute when they think they’re being risqué.
All in all, though it’s light on the wacky factor, it’s not necessarily a slog to sit through, and because it’s included in my Netflix subscription, it gets a generous two and a half out of five stars.