Every week, new original films debut on Netflix and other streaming services, often to much less fanfare than their big-screen counterparts.Cinemastreamis Vox’s series highlighting the most notable of these premieres, in an ongoing effort to keep interesting and easily accessible new films on your radar.
The premise:Six middle-aged women who have been friends for decades gather in Sonoma for a celebratory weekend away. The result: mishaps, mayhem, revelations, and a lot of wine.
What it’s about:The cast is why most people will watchWine Country, because it’s stacked with women who were writers, cast members, or both onSaturday Night Live.Directed by Amy Poehler, the film was co-written by Emily Spivey and Liz Cackowski, based on a story the three of them cooked up.
Poehler stars as the ringleader of the group of women, which includes Spivey, Maya Rudolph, Rachel Dratch, Paula Pell, and Ana Gasteyer. (Tina Fey has a bit part, of course.) And it’s clear the movie draws inspiration from the women’s ongoing relationships with one another. The characters met when they worked at the same pizza place in Chicago; many of the actresses got their start at Second City in Chicago. That’s no accident.
Wine Countryis a pleasant enough comedy about friendships in middle age and learning to embrace change. It’s surprising, though, that the film isn’t more fun. The pacing feels oddly slow, which blunts the edges of some of the jokes. For a group of actresses with improv comedy chops, it feels labored at times. And it doesn’t have the zany, unpredictable energy of a movie likeBridesmaids.
Perhaps it’s a little unfair to ask a movie to be what it’s not, but I found myself wishingWine Countrywere a documentary about these six women — the actual women, not the characters — traipsing their way through wine country together, or just spending a weekend talking about their lives and their friendships, like a version ofTea With the Dames.
Yet there’s still pleasure to be had fromWine Country; a cast this great can’t go totally wrong. Watch it on the couch, a glass of chardonnay in hand.
Critical reception:Wine Countrycurrently has a score of 68 on Metacritic. At the Wrap, Yolanda Machado writes, “Wine Countryshows that women in their 50s are in one of the best phases of their lives, a time to be celebrated, welcomed, and enjoyed with good friends and good wine.”
Where to watch:Wine Countryis streaming on Netflix beginning May 10.