Sideways, DVD version
Four out of five stars
The label on the case states “Best comedy of the year,” but from my perspective it was hard to see the justification for that comment. Paul Giamatti plays Miles and Thomas Haden Church plays Jack, and both are in some form of mid-life crisis. Miles is still struggling to come to terms with his divorce and Jack is due to be married on the upcoming weekend. As a form of coping with the changes, they embark on a wine-tasting trip through the California wine country.
Miles is a teacher of English and a true wine aficionado, while Jack is clueless about the subject. Miles is also a struggling novelist; he has submitted a manuscript to a publisher and is awaiting a publication decision. Jack is basically on the hunt for women for both of them.
These are two guys that have serious problems in many aspects of their lives, yet there is one constant, their loyalty to each other. This is one of the most intense bromances I have ever seen, no matter what Jack does, Miles will aid him, even to the point of letting Jack wreck his car in order to construct an alibi.
This is a movie about the complexity of adult relationships, when they have ended, when they are beginning and when they are constant. On that level, it is successful, these are two guys with serious issues in their lives, sometimes you empathize and other times you are uttering the phrase, “You pathetic buffoon!” There is nothing amusing about coming to the realization that you are not going to achieve your lifelong dream.
I loved the ambiguous ending that is reminiscent of the classic Frank R. Stockton story, “The Lady or the Tiger?” It is presented as an ending rather than as a cliffhanger to leave viewers begging for a sequel.