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4.4 out of 5 stars
Bottle Shock
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72 of 77 people found the following review helpful
on December 13, 2008
Format: DVD
Before a (then) little known Paris wine tasting in 1976, most people had no idea that California was producing world class wines. That changed when a British ex-pat in Paris organized a wine tasting of the best French versus the best Californians - against all expectations, California won both best red and white and nothing in the wine world has been the same since.

This drama/light comedy follows the true story of the travails of the winning white (Chardonnay) winery leading up to the competition. There is lots to enjoy here including a struggling small business story, an evolving father-son relationship, the comeuppance of an arrogant industry, and of course, a love triangle. The movie is well cast (and very well acted) with Bill Pullman as the business owner father and Alan Rickman as the snobby Brit amazed to find that good wines can be found this side of the Atlantic.

In the final analysis, this is a feel good movie, suitable for the whole family with the proviso that kids under 10 might get bored in places.
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44 of 47 people found the following review helpful
on February 1, 2009
Format: DVD
I saw this movie when it first came out, and then put on a tasting party based on the wines they drank in the movie. People had a great time watching the movie while drinking some of the same wines from the famous tasting (newer vintages). It is true that a lot of artistic licence has been taken, so if you care about the real facts, read The Judgement of Paris (excellent book). However, there are some hilarious lines, Alan Rickman is fabulous, and the scene of the tasting itself is a must for anyone that cares about wine. Personally, I would fast forward through the love-triangle scenes ("Jules and Jim" this film is not). Any wine lover who doesn't see it because of the negative comments about it not perfectly following the facts will be missing out on a very enjoyable film.
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31 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on January 31, 2009
Format: DVD
I saw this movie on a trans-Pacific airline trip and it is fabulous! If you survived the seventies and love wine, this is for you. Of if you're just an Alan Rickman fan, you'll like it, too! Really a fun, fun movie and makes me want to spend a year's salary to buy a bottle of 1971 California Chardonnay!
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon March 31, 2009
Format: DVD
I'd never heard of this film, which was offered on a recent flight overseas. Given the other movies offered, however, it looked appetizing enough, and I'm glad we tried it out.

Here, we meet again Alan Rickman (best-known for his role in the Harry Potter film series, as the snarling and sinister Snape). This time, however, he's Steven Spurrier, an amusing British dirty blond, the middle-aged proprietor of a failing Paris wine-tasting "academy," ahem, business. His exceedingly poor French pronunciation earns him a snub from even the sommelier at classiest City of Light annual vintners' event: He is nearly rejected at the door, and upon indignantly showing his ticket, is seated at the last table in the rear, by the swinging dining room door.

We also get another surprise performance from Dennis Farina, most famous for his hardened cop character in Law & Order. Here, as Maurice, Farina plays a gauche New York transplant to Paris, an acquaintance of Spurrier who proposes that the latter stir up business by hosting a wine tasting to pit French wines against the best that California has to offer. The thinking is that California will naturally lose, big time.

But everyone in France, at least, is astonished by the outcome. Along the way, viewers also witness fine character acting by California winery owner Jim Barrett (Bill Pullman) and his post-Woodstock generation son, Bo (Chris Pine).

A thoroughly enjoyable romp through a 1976 true-life story---or a story at least based on true life. American ingenuity wins, again.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on September 11, 2009
Format: DVD
It was one of those movies where I REALLY wish it had a better director and/or writer. There was a interesting story to tell there, but the director and scriptwriters muddied it up.

There are good solid performances all around. Alan Rickman was his usual fine self as the Brit living in France who comes up with the idea of the event. He's droll, dry, and sarcastic. Renting the film is worth it for his performance alone. Bill Pullman is very stoic and tightly wound as Jim Barrett, the winery owner who has staked everything he owns on the little-winery-that-could and is having a financial melt-down. Chris Pine, dressed in classic mid-70's garb and hair, is the ne'er-do-well useless son who is finding his place in the world. Freddy Rodriquez, a favorite of mine, is very good as Gustavo and just about steals the story. Dennis Farina plays himself, but "himself" is always an interesting guy <g>

The film is set at a time when all of the wineries didn't have big showrooms and didn't even charge for tastings--and wine is a whole $6 bucks a bottle! But the basic story is a good one, and although they have fictionalized much of it, the wines were made and they did win. Following that, a small article in Time magazine brought Napa and its wines to a wider consumer base.

The problem is that the screenwriters included a fictional character to support a unnecessary fictional love story. Also problematic is that the script actually makes the secondary characters more interesting than the lead characters. For example, there is a secondary storyline about the winemakers assistant, Gustavo (although oddly, the winemaker who actually created the winning wine isn't even mentioned - what's with that?). Gustavo is the son of a field hand who has been making his own wine on the side while working for Barrett. He dreams of making wines and knows that he has to goods to deliver. (In real life he eventually opens his own boutique winery, GustavoThrace.) But Gustavo's story was actually more compelling than the Barrett prodigal son one, and I wish more time had been spent on it. He also forms the third side of the love triangle and the problem is that even though he's cast as the guy who loses the girl, you can't help but feel he really should have gotten the girl (despite Chris Pine's considerable attractions <g>)

But of course, nobody should have gotten the girl because they didn't need the girl to tell this story in the first place; it could have stood on its own without all that. I suppose the argument could be made the girl was representative of the female winemakers who would come to Napa, but that's a stretch. Mostly the character is just there to get wet and add sex appeal.

So it's this kind of thing where the story hits some bumps. This is not to say it sucks, it doesn't. As long as you're willing to accept that except for the outcome of the French tasting, it's pretty much fiction, I give it a very solid B- for entertainment value and good acting.

But it could have been an A with a little more care in the direction and in the script.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on February 25, 2009
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
I think this is such a wonderful story, totally brought to life by the filmmakers. A copy of the movie + a bottle of wine makes a perfect gift for wine lovers. Watching the tale of the opening of the wine industry with all the beauty of the California wine country is a delight. And it's funny and romantic too.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on March 15, 2009
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
It's a pity that this movie was not in the movie theatres in Europe. It's acutally a good one.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVD
I found this movie almost by accident and I must say that it was a wonderful find. I'd classify it as a light comedic drama.

The story centers on two fronts:

The first is the story of a small struggling vinyard in California with Bill Pullman at its head raising a 26year old teenage son, Chris Pine, who is still living like its Woodstock 1969, only its the 1970s. Bill has a small group of mexican workers, played very well by Freddy Rodriguez and Miguel Sandoval and a bright up and coming intern, Rachael Taylor, who comes to work at the vineyard. Pullman is in debt and had left the city to follow his passion and build great wines in California. We imagine that all the wine growers of the region have similar stories...just a bunch of ex hippies with ties to academia working the land planting grapes and hoping that one day their wines will be recognized for their greatness.

The second - on the other side of the ocean in Paris, the wonderful actor Alan Rickman plays a British Expat who runs an academy for Wines...only all his wines are French. His partner, another wonderfully talented actor David Farina, tells Rickman that his problem is that the Academy only deals with French wines and that the game is about the world. So Alan Rickman sets up a blind wine tasting competition between American and French Wines for the American bicentennial (well FRENCH wines vs american wines)...with the French Flag three times bigger than the American flag on the pamphlet. Rickman comes to America and tastes wines from the Californian wines and picks the best ones to take back to France.

You know what happens, in 1976 on the American bicentennial, in a blind taste test, American wines took the #1 spot in both White and Red categories over French wines (the French picked American wines as the best...by mistake I'm sure). This put California on the map and those poor hippies, well they became snobs too and bought ferraris.

Overall, the story told here is great. Its what I would call "relaxful"....you know what's going to happen, there's some comedy, a light love triangle (very light), some pretty scenery, some tremendous acting, lots of truly great actors, and a great story of how the underdog hippie grew up to drive the 7 Series BMW...go figure, some things never change.

So why hairy....well, this was the 1970s and the weather in California was hot and I have to say that throughout the entire movie (with the exception of Bill Pullman), everyone in the movie appeared to have six days growth of hair....everyone seemed hairy, in the true classical hippie tradition (many of my friends are hippies or sons/daughters of hippies so no disrespect meant there) just that this movie is firmly set in the 1970s and they replicated everything including the clothing, dressing styles, and yes the HAIR. Hilarious.

Its a great movie and a timeless story of us taking our snobby French neighbors down a peg or two. Who doesn't enjoy that. All in good fun fellow French friends, the French do make great wines and Lafite is still my favorite albeit its hard to afford these days.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on October 17, 2013
Format: DVD
One of my favorite birthday gifts I've ever gotten from my husband was Bottle Shock on Blu-Ray, and a beautiful bottle of Chateau Montelena Chardonnay! The movie does exactly what it is supposed to do which is bring us back to the mid- 70s in Napa, CA and the historical events that happened in the world of wine in 1976. It is entertaining and enjoyable, and it makes you proud to be an American for a couple hours. It seems to me that feeling is hard to come by today, so it is absolutely worth watching. It's not cerebral or Oscar caliber, but so what, it's a perfectly enjoyable little movie about overcoming hardship to reach ultimate success! As far as I am concerned it is right up there as a collector's item just as a '73 bottle of Chateau Montelena Chardonnay is!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon June 29, 2009
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
I saw Bottleshock in the theatre when it came out. I went with a bunch of home winemakers in Northern California who had more than a passing interest in the story. I actually liked the movie more than they did. Most of them responded after the viewing that they thought the filmmakers must have taken a lot of license with the story because it just didn't seem realistic to them. Well, I was pleasantly surprised when I bought the dvd and listened to the commentary and watched the interviews of the real individuals involved that the story was NOT altered appreciably from what really happened. Other than the setting of the taste test near the end of the movie (which was actually done indoors in Paris - not outdoors in the countryside) most of the events portrayed in the movie really did happen - and they make for a very entertaining film, as well as teaching a little history of the California wine business. If you have any interest in wine making - or wine drinking - this is an excellent movie that I'm sure you'll both enjoy and learn something from. I know I did.
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