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In this intoxicating, intelligent comedy, director Alexander Payne (Election, About Schmidt) serves up "one of the best movies of the year" (Entertainment Weekly) about the ups, downs and sideways journeys of life.
A wine-tasting road trip through California's famed Central Coast takes an unexpected detour as Miles (Paul Giamatti) and Jack (Thomas Haden Church) hit the gas en route to their mid-life crises. The comically mismatched pair soon find themselves drowning in wine, women...and laughter!
Alexander Payne, Winner, Best Director,Alexander Payne, Jim Taylor, Winner, Best Screenplay,Michael London, Winner, Best Feature,Paul Giamatti, Winner, Best Male Lead,Thomas Haden Church, Winner, Best Supporting Male,Virginia Madsen, Winner, Best Supporting Female
British Academy Awards (2005)
Alexander Payne, Jim Taylor, Winner, Best Screenplay - Adapted
Golden Globe (2005)
Alexander Payne, Jim Taylor, Winner, Best Screenplay - Motion Picture,Sideways, Winner, Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy
Alexander Payne, Jim Taylor, Winner, Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay,Michael London, Nominee, Best Motion Picture of the Year
Screen Actors Guild (2005)
Paul Giamatti, et. al., Winner, Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
Sideways is from Alexander Payne (Election, About Schmidt), whose films simultaneously satirize and observe life in America. Unlike David Lynch, who uses saws and butcher knives to dissect the American dream, Payne prefers a scalpel. Lynch often ridicules his characters (and sometimes the audience), but it's clear that Payne likes the individuals he uses to populate his films, even though they're not always the nicest of people. Sideways looks at one of the oldest and oddest of "civilized" conventions: the bachelor party. Using this as a springboard, the movie becomes about friendship, love, sex, and wine...There are no big, A-list stars, although the quality of the acting is of the highest caliber. The leads are played by character actors Paul Giamatti (as Miles) and Thomas Hayden Church (as Jack). These two are best friends who take a one-week road trip to California's wine country to celebrate Jack's upcoming wedding. Their plans are to spend their days tasting wine and playing golf. But an itch in Jack's pants gets in the way. He wants to have a last fling, and he targets the feisty Stephanie (Sandra Oh) - except he neglects to mention that he's not looking for a long-term commitment. While Jack is romping with Stephanie, Miles tentatively tries to set something up with her friend, Maya (Virginia Madsen), a waitress with whom he has had prior contact...Overall, how does this compare to Payne's previous two movies? It's not as openly satirical as Election and is a little less bleak than About Schmidt. The characters in Sideways are better developed than those in the earlier films, the poignancy is just as forceful as it was in About Schmidt, and the comedy is slightly better integrated. In my opinion, this is Payne's finest movie to-date. It is a little on the long side (slightly over two hours), but the minutes fly by. It's likely that 2004 won't offer a better movie about a mid-life crisis.
"There was a tasting last night," Miles Raymond explains, on one of those alcoholic mornings that begin in the afternoon and strain eagerly toward the first drink. That's why he's a little shaky. He's not an alcoholic, you understand; he's an oenophile, which means he can continue to pronounce French wines long after most people would be unconscious. We realize he doesn't set the bar too high when he praises one vintage as "quaffable." No wonder his unpublished novel is titled The Day After Yesterday; for anyone who drinks a lot, that's what today always feels like...Miles is the hero of Alexander Payne's "Sideways," which is as lovable a movie as "Fargo," although in a completely different way. He's an English teacher in middle school whose marriage has failed, whose novel seems in the process of failing, whose mother apparently understands that when he visits her, it is because he loves her, and also because he needs to steal some of her money. Miles is not perfect, but the way Paul Giamatti plays him, we forgive him his trespasses, because he trespasses most of all against himself...Miles' friend Jack is getting married in a week. They would seem to have little in common. Jack is a big, blond, jovial man at the peak of fleshy middle-aged handsomeness, and Miles looks like -- well, if you know who Harvey Pekar is, that's who Giamatti played in his previous movie. But Jack and Miles have been friends since they were college roommates, and their friendship endures because together they add up to a relatively complete person...Alexander Payne has made four wonderful movies: "Citizen Ruth," "Election," the Jack Nicholson tragicomedy "About Schmidt," and now this. He finds plots that service his characters, instead of limiting them. The characters are played not by the first actors you would think of casting, but by actors who will prevent you from ever being able to imagine anyone else in their roles.
Widescreen, Aspect Ratio 1.85:1, English, French, Spanish, Subtitled, Dubbed
Fox Home Entertainment
DVD / Blu-Ray
Carrie Rickey, Philadelphia Inquirer
Exhilarating, edgy and wryly comic.
Megan Lehmann, New York Post
A sublime variation on the buddy road movie, infusing the midlife crises of the two main protagonists with hope and poetry.
Michael Wilmington, Chicago Tribune
A boisterous, brilliant, heart-warming comedy--strikes me as just about perfect.
New York Daily News
A comedy masterpiece!
Wonderful, hilarious...deliciously bittersweet.
Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
Pure movie bliss.
...as a painful, uproarious story of humanity, this is a perfectly contained cinematic experience.