Sideways (R)

Comedy 123 October 22, 2004
By MELISSA LEVINE
Miles (Paul Giamatti) is a tortured writer suffering over the twin failures of his marriage and his novel; he finds comfort only in the arcane particulars of wine tasting and connoisseurship. As the film opens, Miles must rescue his friend Jack (the ruddy, amiable Thomas Haden Church) from the home of his soon-to-be in-laws and show him a week of bachelor joy before his wedding the following Saturday. Technically, these men should not be friends. Miles worries his life into a tight ball of angst; Jack rides a wave of wine, women, and ’70s-era fun. The irony is that while Jack worries that Miles will spoil his joyride, it's Jack who threatens to ruin things for Miles. Director Alexander Payne, who has made two brilliant films (Election, About Schmidt) already, leaves the flattened vowels and dumpster-in-every-shot anomie of Omaha for the tawny, rolling hills of the Central California Coast. The result is a hilarious, moving tribute to an awkward friendship -- and one of the most enjoyable films of 2004.
Alexander Payne Paul Giamatti, Thomas Haden Church, Virginia Madsen, Sandra Oh, Alysia Reiner, Marylouise Burke, Missy Doty, M.C. Gainey, Patrick Gallagher, Alex Kalognomos Alexander Payne, Rex Pickett Jay Cohen Fox Searchlight Pictures

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