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68 of 75 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A "Little Film" Makes the Big Time
It's always dangerous when you are late in coming to a small movie that has unexpectedly hit the big time -- your viewing enjoyment may be hampered by the crushing weight of expectations. It's wonderful when you can be among the first to see small-budget classics like Stanely Tucci's "Big Night," but I didn't get to see "Sideways" until after the Oscar nominations, the...
Published on August 1, 2005 by Scott Schiefelbein

15 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the bottle..
Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the bottle, out pops on corker of a movie. From the director of "Election" and "About Schmidt", Alexander Payne teams up with fellow writer, Jim Taylor once again. Bottled as a dark comedy with a hint of romance and a label that reads, "13% Drama by Volume," "Sideways" tries but fails to capture any one genre. Maybe that...
Published on May 22, 2006 by cubicle#3

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68 of 75 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A "Little Film" Makes the Big Time, August 1, 2005
Scott Schiefelbein (Portland, Oregon United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Sideways (Widescreen Edition) (DVD)
It's always dangerous when you are late in coming to a small movie that has unexpectedly hit the big time -- your viewing enjoyment may be hampered by the crushing weight of expectations. It's wonderful when you can be among the first to see small-budget classics like Stanely Tucci's "Big Night," but I didn't get to see "Sideways" until after the Oscar nominations, the critics' Top 10 lists, and so on. How could "Sideways" possibly live up to these awesome credentials?

Well, "Sideways" does live up to its billing, and it does so through one simple virtue -- truth. "Sideways" is an extremely funny and insightful examination of two men struggling with their mediocrity -- one who is all too aware of his shortcomings, and another who uses a pathetic Peter Pan syndrome to keep at bay the harsh glare of reality.

The self-aware guy is Miles (the lovable schlub Paul Giamatti), a recently divorced middle school English teacher who's having a difficult time getting his novel published . . . or even explained. Miles is awash in bitterness, but he knows deep down that he's a sweet guy once you get past the sour layers (of which there are many). The ignorant guy is Jack (Thomas Hayden Church), Miles' freshman roommate from San Diego State and a mildly successful actor. Jack is one of those guys who should be thankful for the successes he has, but is incapable of doing so because by accepting a given success, he is placing a ceiling on his dreams.

The "plot" of "Sideways" revolves around Jack's impending marriage. Engaged to a rich beauty and walking down the aisle on Saturday, Jack gets escorted by Miles for a week of freedom in the California central coast wine country. While wine, for Jack, is a means for getting drunk, it is a religion for Miles. Of course, it's obvious to anyone who spends five minutes with Miles that he uses his mastery of wine as a defense mechanism ("I appreciate great wine, so I must be worth something") - thanks to the witty script, "there's just like the faintest soupçon of like, uh, asparagus," has entered our lexicon of pretentious criticism. Miles can use his focus on wine to avoid meeting people who could possibly reject him.

That's difficult on this trip, because Miles has met his soulmate, Maya (Virginia Madsen), who is a waitress at a wine country restaurant. Miles and Maya share a devotion to wine, and Miles is continuously surprised at the depth and character of this woman. The question of whether Miles can break out of his various layers of emotional armor to forge a connection with this delightful woman dominates the movie.

Unfortunately for Miles, Jack is as shallow as Miles is deep. In a classic self-destructive move, Jack gets involved with Stepanie (Sandra Oh), a vibrant single mother and good friend of Maya's. A pell-mell romance ensues, with the ever-so-slight complication that Jack hasn't told Stephanie about his impending marriage. Watching Jack skirt emotional ruin while selfishly justifying his caddish behavior is a gruesome delight.

Through it all, the script for "Sideways" puts believable, memorable lines into the mouths of these talented actors. Long narratives about wine reveal surprising details of the speakers, and each character receives a separate, distinct voice (this isn't a Quentin Tarantino movie where all the actors sound like Saint Quentin, or a George Lucas movie where all the actors sound like idiots). A "talky" movie, "Sideways" never runs out of steam.

There is plenty of humor in "Sideways," but most of it is reserved - you will chuckle more often than laugh outright - but there are a few gut-busting moments, as well.

"Sideways" is an attractive movie, but it is shot with a realistic eye -- the California wine country looks great, but this is not an "eye candy" movie like "Under the Tuscan Sun," which looked sumptuous but had little else to offer. "Sideways" gets the balance of visuals and substance just right - one can easily imagine Miles liking his own movie, and that is high praise.
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great movie -- for the right audience, January 12, 2008
This review is from: Sideways (Amazon Instant Video)
I really enjoyed this movie. It's funny, awkward, and touching. It's got a *great* ending. But certainly it's not for everyone--this is a character-driven film--that is, the plot is about changes taking place within the characters' emotions, relationships, and understandings of themselves. If you're looking for high drama, big action, stunning cinematography--look elsewhere. But if you're interested in a small-ish film about real-ish people, real-ish situations--and genuine humor, give sideways a try.
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44 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What's wrong with me then for liking this?, January 11, 2008
This review is from: Sideways (Widescreen Edition) (DVD)
I realize this movie has come and gone but over the last year I've really grown to love it and after reading some of the reviews that this movie was so poor I felt compelled to give my opinion.

First, what's with the "boring" film thing, if you want exciting I don't know, rent something that's supposed to be exciting with explosions and Bruce Willis. Or if you find it morally ambiguous, consider what movies the director traditionally makes, Election, About Schmidt, these are somewhat dark, slow, depressing movies, rent something with Larry The Cable Guy if that's your thing; point is a little research prevents bad movie choices.

At 28 what I like about this movie is that it recognizes that life is messy and complicated. Considering my limited life experience I recognize that getting older doesn't automatically make someone perfect, responsible, and ethical. Cheating on spouses is not for me, but I've known couples (one of which many would describe as a good couple) who've cheated on each other. I'm not saying this is right but the point is I think people should be able to see some aspects of this story that are similar to their lives. Have you ever had a hard time getting over someone, or has one of your friends??? Ever know anyone who's unable to admit about a problem or won't admit they are in a rut?? I think lots of people feel like this, including myself; the point is there are those moments that give you hope. I'm speaking specifically about Miles in this movie, at one point in time he was much better, (though weak, he did cheat on his wife) Jack describes an entirely cheerier person. Miles reluctantly goes on this trip and is almost literally forced to recognize Mia as prospective relationship; this is ultimately positive, a reminder that opportunities for happiness are all around us if we choose to acknowledge that we are unhappy, in ruts, and are brave enough to follow them out. I know Miles does some despicable things, but somewhere he knows there is a person he wishes he could be, someone who does not just settle down, have a family, and eventually be married 50 years to their fat friend who they argue with constantly and live in there own worlds of denial. I feel I have hope for people in general; I look at the characters in the movie and think they want to be happy and hopefully they deal with the problems in their life.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "I think it was Bukowski...", October 23, 2010
This review is from: Sideways [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
The Film

What a great film. Sideways is one of the few movies based on a book that improves a good deal over its source material. And it is absolutely hilarious. The reason I like Sideways, for better or for worse, is I know both Jack and Miles too well. At one time or another, I've walked in both of their shoes. Alexander Payne reaches a zenith of sorts with his quiet eccentric style. The film blends friendship, the road trip and a party flick. The wine provides an interesting tenor to boot. Paul Giamatti and Thomas Haden Church are completely irreplaceable in their respective roles. They're sort of cosmopolitan R2D2 and C3P0 roadies.

The Blu-Ray

There's been a lot of complaints over perceived Blu-Ray quality over the standard DVD. I can tell you, the Blu-Ray is better. On a large 1080p screen, there is a noticeable difference. Cinematographer Phedon Papamichael created a unique look for the visuals to give the film a signature feel. All those smudgy light plumes, and glowing highlights come from diffusion and slight overexposure folks, maybe even a shot of digital grading to punch the highlights. None of those things lend themselves to the sharpest end products - the end product is a vintage style soft image. The Blu-Ray IS indeed better. There is no way i would choose the DVD over this. If you don't have a big enough 1080p screen for it to matter, however, the DVD will probably suffice. But come on, at $10 for the BD, why choose the DVD?
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One Great Inside Joke, August 16, 2008
This review is from: Sideways (Widescreen Edition) (DVD)
Sideways is a buddy movie about two flawed buddies who go off on a wine-tasting adventure in lieu of a bachelor party. The story is more melancholic than comic as the buddies each bump up against their disappointments and failures.
There are lots of reasons to watch this film. The acting is masterful, Sandra Oh is delectable and the scenery is-for most of us-a delight.What sets this movie up for a special place in my heart is one great wine joke.

There's a scene in the beginning where Miles (Paul Giamatti) carries on at some length about Merlot and his dislike of it. It's a rant that I've seen imitated a few times. At the very end of the movie, Miles decides to drink the one great bottle of wine that he's been saving for ' a special occasion'. He's depressed at the time (Miles is depressed a lot) and so he takes it to a fast food joint and drinks it with a Wiftyburger or whatever they call 'em. As he pulls the wine out of the bag, we get a quick peek at the label. It's a fabled Bordeaux called Cheval Blanc. You won't find this information on the label, but wine insiders know that one of the dominant grapes in that wine is.....yup, Merlot.

Lynn Hoffman author ofThe New Short Course in Wine
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An adult-themed comedy/drama that works from many angles., March 25, 2006
This review is from: Sideways (Widescreen Edition) (DVD)
Tonight had been the first time I seen this film and the reason why it took me so long to see this film was because it wasn't high on my "Must See List." At the end of this film I quite enjoyed it and for many reasons. One may be that I will never see a commemorative Sideways bottle of wine or the Sideways happy meal at McDonald's. My point is that Sideways is a great movie and nothing more. It doesn't rely on blockbuster star power. It doesn't need flashy special effects or gimmicks. Paul Giammatti performs flawlessly as a flawed and deeply troubled character. I found myself forgetting he was acting. I only saw the character he was playing and became engrossed by his presence. Thomas Haden Church offers a very nice contrast by playing what appears to be a two-dimensional, sophomoric, womanizer.

The story is simple and focuses more on character development. It is easy to connect with each of the main characters. They may not be likable but what they are is human. If you can't relate to them personally, they remind you of a family member or close friend.

Overall, this film is for those who like movies based in reality, which as you will see can produce some of the most bizarre and comical situations of all. If you like movies with jokes you don't have to think about (Who doesn't from time to time) don't worry, this film has a surprisingly high amount of low brow, and immature humor. While it is so easy to resort to the wine as metaphor - as the film amply does with smart, sharp and pungent dialogue - the film is a full-bodied, never precocious vintage that needs to be savored in a desirable bouquet of cinematic finesse. Give it a try.
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18 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Giamatti Shines, April 2, 2007
This review is from: Sideways (Widescreen Edition) (DVD)
The medium of the cinema can be entertaining as well as educational, and when it's done well, a film can be both. Such is the case with "Sideways," directed by Alexander Payne, who also wrote the screenplay, which he adapted from the novel by Rex Pickett.

Jack (Thomas Haden Church), an actor whose "star" peaked some eleven years earlier and who now ekes out a living primarily doing commercials, is about to be married. With one week to go before the big day, his best man/friend/former college roommate, Miles (Paul Giamatti), has cooked up a trip to California's wine country, where he proposes a week of friendship, good wine, good food and golf as a send-off for Jack into that most blessed state of matrimony.

As is often the case with the hand that Life deals us, however, the week does not quite go as planned, for a couple of reasons: First, though Miles proclaims this week to be about Jack, Miles is battling his own demons of depression, which have plagued him for going on two years now, ever since his divorce from his beloved Victoria (Jessica Hecht). In addition to which, although he makes his living as an Eighth-Grade English Teacher, Miles is also an aspiring novelist, who happens to be waiting for a call from his agent, who has a publisher interested in the novel Miles has been working on for more than three years. So there is an ulterior motive for Miles at work here; a wine connoisseur, he's taking Jack into country that is not only familiar to him, but is without question a "comfort zone" for Miles, who desperately needs a temporary respite from his own cares right now.

The other problem is that Jack has an inflated ego and an overactive libido, a potent combination that quickly dictates an alternate plan of action for the week. Jack, it seems, is bent on sowing every last wild oat that remains, active or dormant, within him, before his impending nuptials scheduled for the following Saturday. Soon he is involved with Stephanie (Sandra Oh), who works pouring samples of wine for visitors at one of the first vineyards to which Miles takes Jack on their tour.

Jack then successfully devises a plan that gets Miles involved with Maya (Virginia Madsen), a waitress at one of the restaurants Miles frequents on his visits to this part of the world. Maya also happens to be a recent divorcee who is working on her Master's in Horticulture at one of the local colleges, as well as being a wine connoisseur in her own right and a friend of Stephanie's to boot. All of which sounds like the makings of a good time for all, with one exception: Jack conveniently fails to tell Stephanie that he is about to be married.

Bad move, Jack...

In "Sideways," Payne has created a highly entertaining and emotionally involving film with characters and situations to which a broad cross-section of viewers will readily be able to relate and identify. Payne has an eye for nuance and subtlety, which makes his film- essentially a character study- a succinct examination of the human condition.

Subtlety and nuance is exactly what Paul Giamatti brings to the role of Miles, as well. It's a performance that is so real it's almost excruciatingly so at times, but it makes Miles someone you can empathize with. Giamatti creates a sympathetic character you can't help but root for on this vast wilderness of a stage we call life; it's a performance that should easily have earned him an Oscar for Best Actor.

Haden Church does an exemplary job, too, as Jack. He imbues his character with such believable self-centered shallowness that you want to laugh at him and hit him at the same time. The rub is, Jack knows what he's doing, but simply can't help himself; so in the end you may find yourself sympathizing with him anyway, because Haden Church presents Jack as someone who just does not possess the intellectual capacity to do otherwise, which somehow makes you want to let him off the hook. You realize that this is just Jack honestly being who he is. And it takes a good performance to get you as a viewer to that place.

The striking Virginia Madsen does a good job, as well, as Maya, creating a character that is a perfect counterpart to the Miles created by Giamatti. And Sandra Oh, currently riding a surging wave of popularity due to her role on televisions "Grey's Anatomy," brings some definite pizzazz to her role of Stephanie, successfully displaying her character's spirit, while at the same time exposing a decidedly vulnerable side of her.

The supporting cast includes Missy Doty (Cammi), M.C. Gainey (Cammi's husband), Patrick Gallagher (Gary the bartender), Marylouise Burke (Mile's mother), Alysia Reiner (Christine) and Stephanie Faracy (Stephanie's mother).

A film that lends itself to repeated viewings, "Sideways" is one of those gems that makes you appreciate not only the artists involved, as well as the art of filmmaking, but the medium itself. I like this movie more every time I see it.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 4 1/2! I Loved this movie but it isn't for everyone, May 16, 2008
This review is from: Sideways (Widescreen Edition) (DVD)
"Sideways" based on the novel "Sideways: A Novel" by Rex Pickett. Directed by Alexander Payne.

Miles (Paul Giamatti) is the guy that just can't seem to win. He is something of a middle aged Charlie Brown. He is in what appears to be an unfulfilling career as a school teacher and he has recently gotten divorced. Miles last hope for redemption in life is that his novel will get published which is currently being shopped around by his agent. Miles can't worry about that now though because his best friend Jack (Thomas Haden Church) is about to get married and Miles plans to take Jack out to wine country as a sort of one on one bachelor party. Miles has plans of a week long low key male bonding trip but Jack has different plans. Jack envisions a week of chasing women and cutting loose and the contrasting bachelor party ideas collide as the two head out to wine country...

"Sideways" is not for everyone but I loved this movie. Although classified as a comedy I think of this as more of a character examination movie. Sideways is a character driven movie and is primarily about Miles as he attempts to deal with the shambles he feels his life has become while at the same time trying to be a gracious host to Jack as Jack stomps all over Miles plans for their week in wine Country. As you watch you see Miles go through an emotional roller coaster ride as he deals with Jack who is almost his polar opposite, tries to get over his ex wife and looks for something positive to hope for in the future as he indulges in the last thing he truly enjoys which is drinking good wine.

The Good: The acting all around was great. Paul Giamatti was absolutely perfect for the Miles character and Thomas Haden Church was a perfect to play off of Gimatti's Miles and the character dynamic between the 2 was great. You can't help but to pull for Miles as runs into one pitfall after another usually created by Jack.

The score for this movie was superbly done. The music perfectly accents Miles and his moods and feelings. With the combination of Gimatti's acting and the score I felt like I knew exactly what was going on in Miles' head.

The Bad: Nothing memorable.

Overall: This is not for everyone so be warned. This is not an overtly funny movie even though it is labeled as a comedy. If you want to watch a movie about interesting characters and don't require big explosions or slap stick comedy then pick up Sideways and give it a try.
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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars New favorite director, May 16, 2005
This review is from: Sideways (Widescreen Edition) (DVD)
In Sideways, Alexander Payne has made arguably his best film, and that is saying a lot indeed. Election and Citizen Ruth are masterful satirical comedies, and About Schmidt is a wonderful film about one man's coming to terms with middle age.

This film has elements of his prior work (great script, full blown multi-dimensional characters, and social satire), but is more subtle and fully realized. The acting is first rate by all, but Paul Giamatti is an absolute revelation. I have never seen a character so morally flawed (he steals from his own mother for chrissakes), who I cared about so much.

The film's storyline has been adequately covered by previous reviewers, but one facet warrants special mention. This guy knows how to end a movie. Election has probably my favorite ending of any movie, but this one is in the same league. Simply put, this is the best movie made in the last year and a half.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I'll take some Pinot please, hold the Merlot, July 16, 2006
Alex A. Fintonis (Bay City, MI United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Sideways (Widescreen Edition) (DVD)
I must admit before I watched this film, I had no idea what it was about. It was recommended to me from friends and I decided to take a break from my horror movies and get into some drama. Don't get me wrong I am not a stranger from the drama genre but it's not my forte. I have always been a fan of Paul Giamatti. I remember the first time I saw him in "Private Parts" and though he was just hilarious. I then rented "American Splendor", and "Cinderella Man" and though he did a wonderful performance in both films, in "Sideways" he was incredible. I am not sure what it is, but he is able to play very memorable characters.

In "Sideways" he plays a recently divorced 8th grade school teacher who is a wine connoisseur. A very unique character to say the least, Thomas Haden Church plays Jack a friend Miles (Giamatti) who is having doubts about his wedding. The two characters venture out on a trip to tour different wineries. Jack not knowing anything about wine is hilarious when Miles tries to explain the joys of wine drinking to him. During this trip both characters get involved with two women and that's when the dominos just begin to fall. Miles is looking for a real relationship but is struggling with still feeling like he needs his ex-wife, while Jack however is just looking for some wild fun before he gets married. Miles fights through the whole film trying to get Jack to do the right thing while also trying to deal with his own demons. Jack meanwhile just gets them both in deeper and deeper trouble. While viewing this film I was constantly rooting for Giamatti's character. His loyalty to his unmoral friend is amazing. Seeing how Jack nearly ruins his chances of reinventing his life for the better. This was a film that I truly enjoyed. It showed phenomenal acting and directing, just a wonderfully made film.
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Sideways (Widescreen Edition)
Sideways (Widescreen Edition) by Alexander Payne (DVD - 2005)
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