Amy Poehler’s ‘Wine Country’ a refreshing good time

From director Amy Poehler and writers Liz Cackowski and Emily Spivey, Wine Country is a heartfelt comedy wrapped up in a Saturday Night Live lover’s dream. Reuniting for a 50th birthday party on a girl’s trip to Napa, California, a group of friends comes back together in the midst of multiple midlife crises. Perfecting human nature and the realism of nitpicky frustrations, Wine Country is a much-needed break with what feels like old friends. (BKP: 4.5/5)

Review by Vice President and Managing Editor Brigid K. Presecky

“If I could offer you some feedback,” Rachel Dratch says throughout the film, in her soothing therapist voice. In doing the same, my feedback is simple: hilarious. When Abby (Poehler) organizes a birthday party in beautiful wine country, it brings together a group of friends who are grouchy, achy, divorced, unemployed, work-obsessed and looking to have a carefree weekend with familiar pals. It’s difficult, however, to let loose with Abby’s itineraries and the underlying fear of growing older.

With a cast made up of SNL alums also including Ana Gasteyer, Paula Pell, Maya Rudolph and Tina Fey, their mere onscreen presence together feels like an always-welcome joy. It’s Bridesmaids with the schtick turned down and the realism turned up. The funniest moments come in sharp one-liners and exaggerated facial expressions, “things we say now” quotes and mocking confident millenials and their art shows.

As humorous as one would expect, it’s equally as tear-inducing with health scares, lost jobs and the feeling of being left out. Amy Poehler in a role without her Leslie Knope cheer from Parks and Recreation or joy from Pixar’s Inside Out gives an impressively moving speech as Abby breaks down about her unemployment and lack of control. Each woman is given her own troubles, juxtaposed to the beautiful vast vineyards as a backdrop. The supporting players, too, use their brief screen time brilliantly: brother-sister duo Craig and Liz Cackowski as stuffy wine connoisseurs, Maya Erskine as a flirty, artsy waitress and Jason Schwartzman as the house chef/chauffeur with a DUI.

If you can’t afford to take a trip to wine country with your best friends, get them together to watch this and have a laugh or two … or 50. It’s nice to be reminded that age is just a number and the two decades that have passed since these women worked together on a Saturday night sketch show feels like two minutes.

Like Ana Gasteyer dictating text into her phone, “Funny Netflix movie dot dot dot Go watch it exclamation point wine emoji.”

© Brigid K. Presecky (5/10/19) FF2 Media

Photo credits: Netflix

Q: Does Wine Country pass the Bechdel-Wallace test?

Without a doubt, yes!

Tags: FF2 Media

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Brigid Presecky began her career in journalism at Chicago's Goodman Theatre. In 2008, she joined FF2 Media as a part-time film critic and multimedia editor. Receiving her Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from Bradley University, she moved to Los Angeles where she worked in development, production and publicity for Berlanti Productions, Entertainment Tonight and Warner Bros. Studios, respectively. Returning to her journalistic roots in Chicago, she is now a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and certified Rotten Tomatoes Film Critic.
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