Bottle Shock is a shameless grab at the yuppie audience that flocked to the similarly themed Sideways. But it doesn't take much longer than the opening credits—as the camera drools embarrassingly over acres of sun-dappled vineyards—to realize that there isn't anything subtle or winning about the newest mash note to Napa. Never mind the "true story" that inspired it: Bottle Shock is a jingoistic light drama, so crude and clueless it flirts with outright racism.

Support The Stranger

It's the mid-1970s, before American wines got any goddamn respect, and long-haired slacker Bo Barrett (Chris Pine) is goofing off around his daddy's vineyard. He doesn't much care for work, but when his father's attractive new intern Sam (Rachael Taylor) starts prancing around the property in formfitting overalls, he makes a token effort at industriousness. Speaking of tokens, Bo has a friend: Gustavo (Freddy Rodriguez), the son of a Mexican laborer and the real brains behind the Barrett family viticulture. Together, the trio gets along swimmingly— until one night, when Sam pays a visit to Gustavo's servant quarters, a romantic hut out by the vines.

There's a whole separate subplot involving an English wine snob (Alan Rickman) who agrees to host a now-famous blind tasting pitting august French wines against their upstart American counterparts. But the wine is just a sideshow. The real narrative climax comes when Sam, for no discernible reason, ditches clever Gustavo for her true destiny: a romp in the sack with young Master Bo, he of the blond hair, tall stature, promising inheritance, etc. Bottle Shock gets strangely gung ho about the essential integrity of this hippie, but offers zero justification for the preference. Poor Freddy Rodriguez. There's no room for a Mexican-American hero in a movie about California's self-respect.