Bottle Shock (DVD)

Oh dear, it's just not fair. Why am I being given some terrible movies to review? Was it something I said? This dreary effort is one of the dullest films of the year - but then I'm not a wine connoisseur. If you have knowledge and passion for winetasting then some of the delicacies on offer might appeal to you. For those who are simply social drinkers (or not) then it's best avoided.

Set in 1976, it's based on a true story about Californian vintner Jim Barrett (Pullman). Straddled with debt he is nevertheless intent on make a great chardonnay. An argumentative character, he is at adds with his rebellious, hippie-ish son Bo (Pine). They have boxing matches against each other.

Rickman plays Steven Spurrier, a British wine expert living in France who comes to the US looking for some good bottles to acquire for his wine tasting event. The bullish Barett is resistant to the Brit's offer but Bo recognises the possible advantage in winning and, despite numerous tedious complications, secretly helps the smartly attired gent out. At the same time he is wrestling with his infatuation for comely new intern Sam (Taylor) - herself having indulged in a fling with fellow employee Gustavo (Rodriguez).

It strives for a lighthearted, airy tone but comes across as merely forced and unfunny. Pullman gives a resolutely unsympathetic performance so one never cares for his plight while Pine is woefully weak as his troublesome son.  He has zero personality in the role - one hopes his Captain Kirk in the forthcoming Star Trek is an improvement. On this showing he displays few credible credentials. Rickman tries for fish-out-of-water pomposity but his comic timing is way off. They could all do with more energy too.

The climactic wine tasting event goes on forever and lacks any suspense, with Farina attired in a tasteless '70s suit desperately trying to inject some oomph into the proceedings. It's an overlong, lacklustre affair, very bland and very boring, the dialogue slack and the direction tepid. Hardly a classic vintage.

EXTRAS * An audio commentary with writer/director Randall Miller, writers Jody Savin, Ross Schwartz and Lannette Pabon, producer J Todd Harris and stars Chris Pine, Bill Pullman and Eliza Dushku.

Justin Bateman is a Screenjabber contributor

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