Sideways is a robust and full bodied comedy. The movie got a bit of a bad rap from some for being about an unpublished writer and an out of work actor living in California being too close a description of everyone writing reviews professionally for them to have an objective opinion about the movie. That being said this buddy road trip movie is an entertaining and frequently funny way to spend a couple of hours. A lot of comedy has at its heart a serious issue, Sideways is just such a comedic experience.
Alexander Payne directs this movie with capable and steady hands never playing for cheap laughs as the protagonists Miles (Paul Giamatti) and his actor friend, Jack (Thomas Haden Church) head out on a bachelor week just before Jack marries Christine and finds himself part of the family real estate business. The trip through California wine country is Miles' idea of a great way for two friends to bond and an opportunity for Miles to show Jack one of his greatest passions.
Whether you like wine or not you can appreciate the humor of Jack's flat palate meeting all wines with a resound "Taste's good to me." Jack's real mission is to get laid before he gets married. Miles is lost, he is completely without direction as his life's work is being considered by a publishing house, he has problems with his emotional entanglements with his ex-wife and he is hopelessly smitten with a waitress who understands wine as well or perhaps better than he does. This movie is endearing, well written, complex and funny. There isn't a sour note in the movie. The supporting cast of Sandra Oh and Virginia Madsen are thoroughly convincing in their roles as the women who fall for these beautiful losers. Jack's relentless libido gets him into constant trouble almost as bad is Miles' constant imbibing when he should only be tasting. The saving grace of both these men is that they are not caricatures. While they may be economical with the truth with the women in their lives they have the capacity to deal honestly with each other and do so with the kind of brutality only male best friends seem to thrive on.
This is a funny movie with a very dark heart that ends with hope. You can't ask for much more than that.