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In this comedy feature, Abby (Amy Poehler) over plans a trip to Napa, with her best, longtime friends, in honor of Rebecca (Rachel Dratch)’s 50th birthday. Workaholic Catherine (Ana Gasteyer), horny Val (Paula Pell), homebody Jenny (Emily Spivey), and weary mom Naomi (Maya Rudolph) are equally sold on the chance to relax and reconnect. Yet as the alcohol flows, real world uncertainties intrude on the punchlines and gossip, and the women begin questioning their friendships and futures.
The story is based on a amalgamation of a real trip to Napa Valley, and other trips that Amy Poehler took with her friends, and co-stars, including Tina Fey, Rachel Dratch, Maya Rudolph, Paula Pell, Ana Gasteyer, plus Emily Spivey, and Liz Cackowski, (who also co-wrote the script).
Wine Country goes deeper than just a trip with friends. The heartfelt comedians have conversations about the fear of aging, of being alone, and what the next chapter will be. These talks aren't usually portrayed through the female lens, which makes the film standout for bringing women's stories on screen. The other change we see is that it stars women in their late 40s, and the soon to be 50, Rebecca, that actually look their age.
Despite the directorial feature debut, Amy Poehler is no stranger in directing episodic television. Working with her friends on-screen, and off-screen, makes the chemistry and friendship believable.
Amy tells us why she wanted to continue working with the actors and writers she met at SNL: "There are so many pieces of film and television that portray women as disconnected and divided. They want the same guy, or are fighting for the same job, whatever. And that’s just not my experience with the women that I know. I’m around really, really complicated, deep, interesting, hilarious women who tell jokes. We just wanted to show that, the conversation that happens. The film is kind of a long conversation."
There’s a scene where the female protagonists banter together a list of, “Things we say now,” which make the characters think they sound old.
"The stuff that you complain about in your 40s compared to [laughs] what you complain about in your 20s is so funny and great. I wouldn’t trade the wisdom and experience I have. I wouldn’t want to go back in time for all the money in the world," says Amy.
Another recurring joke is giving each other “feedback,” which came from a friend, Rachel Hamilton, who plays the bartender in the scene where we meet Brene Brown. “May I offer you some feedback?” became the slogan for the film’s trip.
Besides the friends gang, there are two other interesting characters in the film. Tina Fey plays Tammy, a widowed owner of the airbnb who tries to host for the weekend. Tammy becomes an addition to the group, which is ironic, as she is used to being alone, not running a pack. As the story develops, she gets attached to the ladies, and realizes she's there to help them. Another extension of the house is Jason Schwartzman, who plays Devon. He is there for repairs, and says he’s going to make a cuttlefish paella for the renters, but never gets to finish it. He tries to include himself in the group, but doesn't think about how he should better himself, he likes who he is. When Abby uses Devon for pleasure, he's fine with it. Waking up with a CPAP machine the next morning, she tells him "Get the fuck out."
Wine Country has its release on May 8 in select theaters, and is available for streaming on Netflix May 10.
By Lia F. with additional content from Netflix Media.
Starring: Rachel Dratch, Ana Gasteyer, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, Paula Pell, Emily Spivey, Cherry Jones, Maya Erskine, with Jason Schwartzman, and Tina Fey.
RUNTIME: 1 hr, 43 minutes.