Bottle Shock (2008)

Genre(s): Comedy / Drama
Fox || PG13 - 108 minutes - $27.98 || February 3, 2009
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2009-02-09

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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.

.:: A U D I O ::.

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Director: Randall Miller
Writer(s): Ross Schwartz & Lannette Pabon and Jody Savin & Randall Miller (story), Jody Savin & Randall Miller and Ross Schwartz (screenplay)
Cast: Dennis Farina, Chris Pike, Bill Pullman, Alan Rickman, Freddie Rodriguez, Miguel Sandoval, Rachael Taylor, Bradley Whitford, Eliza Dushku

Theatrical Release Date: August 8, 2008

Supplemental Material:
  • Cast and Crew Commentary
  • 2 Featurettes
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Theatrical Trailer

Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Widescreen (2.35)
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: NA

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.::THE FILM::.

Randall Millerís ode to Californiaís Napa Valley wine is filled with clichťs with one-dimensional characters and a story that needed much... fermenting (honest, that will be the only wine terminology in this review).

Bottle Shock is based upon the true story about how California wines made its mark on the world after competing in a blind test with some of Franceís greats, with one winery taking top prize (trust me, itís not a big spoiler). The film focuses on Chateau Montelena winemaker Jim Barrett (Bill Pullman), his son Bo (Chris Pine) and Boís pal and wine enthusiast, Gustavo (Freddy Rodriguez). And when you add in Sam (Rachel Taylor), the wineryís new intern, things get interesting. Well, not really, but it is a minor subplot.

Fact is, like wine, some will find this film either really boring or a really fascinating cultural drama. Iím pretty much in the former category. I donít mind movies about enthusiasm toward a passion I have little interest in (such as wine), but Bottle Shock after starting well enough, kind of dragged by the end, not for a lack of zeal from the filmmakers however.

What I probably liked the most about it is there is a certain charm, especially with the cast. Even though I have no enthusiasm for the art of wine, I did enjoy this cast. Bill Pullman has always been a great actor, kind of underrated in a way, though with only a few exceptions, takes on quieter more independent roles. Then you add the venerable Alan Rickman as a British/Frenchman touring Napa for American wines to compete with the French and Freddy Rodriguez as a man working for Jim while also starting his own company is underwritten but still effective enough. The film also has appearances by Dennis Farina, Chris Pine and Eliza Dushku, in what was effectively a cameo-like part (as a favor to the director).

Iím not going to go into the nuances of the art of winemaking mainly because I know nothing about it nor have any interest in it, so I can only speak for the story. Many have made comparisons to Sideways and although both films share wine in common, Sideways is much more a character drama whereas this is almost a love story for the love of wine and telling how this period in history changed the art around the world. For that, I applaud the filmmakers for trying something different, but it held little interest for this viewer.

Bottle Shock was directed by Randall Miller, the man in the mid-90s behind classics such as Houseguest and The Sixth Man, but most recently, Nobel Son (also starring Rickman, Pullman, Dushku as well as Danny DeVito and Ted Danson). Miller actually does a pretty good job showcasing the Napa Valley with a stunning and sweeping opening credit sequence, though that romantic richness wasnít as prominent in other scenes.

Obviously you can say that such and such a movie is not for everybody, Iím certain there are many out there who didnít like The Godfather or Citizen Kane, but Bottle Shock probably will only interest a select group as, at least for me, was pretty dry by the end. While I cannot fully recommend this film, I believe I would be doing a disservice if you donít at least give it a chance.


Feature Commentary with Co-writer/director Randall Miller, writer/producer Jody Savin, writers Ross Schwartz and Lonnette Pabon, producer J. Todd Harris and actors Chris Pine, Bill Pullman and Eliza Dushku (who comes in later and say very little). The track is pretty good but also crowded. I think a separate track with just the actors and another with the crew wouldíve been preferable, but for an independent movie that made *only* $4 million, Iím glad one was recorded.

The DVD contains two decent featurettes: An Underdogís Story: The Making of Bottle Shock (13:04), a featurette that has the usual interviews but what I liked were the inclusion of a couple of the real people along with some behind-the-scenes footage. Chateau Montelena: One Wineryís Search for Excellence (10:59) is the history behind the winery, what makes their wine special, etc.

Last are a few deleted scenes (3:30), including a love scene between Chris Pike and Rachael Taylor and the theatrical trailer (2:26).


Because this is a Fox screener, weíre given a watermarked disc so I cannot determine the filmís quality in both video and audio at this time.


While I cannot fully recommend Bottle Shock, I believe I would be doing a disservice if you donít at least give it a chance. The DVD actually has some pretty good features and if this kind of drama interests you, give it a rental before buying.