It’s a real treat to stumble across a movie like ‘Sideways’. I’d never heard of this before stumbling across a showing on HBO last night, but considering it had two of my favorite character actors in Paul Giamatti and Thomas Haden Church, I figured it was worth a shot.
Giamatti plays one of the best roles of his career here. His character, Miles, is a put-upon middle school English teacher who has been divorced for two years, and is struggling to get over his ex as well as get a novel published. His old college friend, Jack, (an actor best known for his work in the voice overs at the end of commercials warning you of the side effects of various drugs) played by Church, is engaged and he has agreed to take him on a buddy road-trip bachelor party.
Miles is a wine-snob, and meets and falls in love with fellow wine-snob ‘Maya’ played by Virginia Madsen. I’ve never been a big wine drinker, but it was a treat to see the passion and knowledge of the subject presented here. This movie sort of his for wine aficionados what ‘High Fidelity’ was for vinly record collectors or what ‘A River Runs Through It’ was for fly-fishing.
These movies aren’t about those pursuits, but they greatly enrich the narrative. Jack is the catalyst for most of the problems that make up the movies comedic excitement, while Miles provides the emotional backbone of the film. Jack meets and falls for Stephanie, which is the excuse he uses to help get Miles a date with Maya.
Both Miles and Jack are very likable characters for very different reasons. Jack is impulsive and simple to a fault—and contemplates breaking off his marriage to move to to So-Cal and open up a winery with Miles. Miles is the opposite of all of that. Together, they make a great friendship though.
This is a sweet, smart movie, filled with messed up people that I could very easily empathize with.