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It’s Rebecca’s 50th, and she’s determined not to make a fuss about reaching the big 5-0. Unfortunately, five of her oldest friends (the operative word being oldest, rather than best) have other ideas – they’re insisting she celebrate with a girls’ trip to Napa Valley, also known as ‘Wine Country’, to drink copious amounts of alcohol.
Planned by the gang’s controlling friend, Amy, there’s a strict wine itinerary for the friends to stick to – which is where the first cracks of tension begin to show. None of them want to argue – and, it seems, no one’s interested in learning about the taste or the legs of a glass of wine – but that proves difficult when there’s so much conflict lying directly under the surface. Of course, that bubbling tension, fuelled by California’s finest wine, soon erupts. If you thought friendships in your twenties were hard, Wine Country is here to show you that they never really get any easier.
Who stars in it?
Having had a string of stellar producing credits on female-centric shows such and Parks and Recreation, Broad City and Russian Doll, Amy Poehler now takes on directing duties for the first time with Wine Country. The cast is sure to make anyone smile – it’s essentially six long-time friends played by six real long-time friends. Here, we’re in the presence of comedy royalty: of the actresses in Wine Country are alumni of Saturday Night Live, and all from the same era of the show. Poehler herself stars as control-freak Abby (imagine Lesley Knope’s efficiency without the positivity); alongside Tina Fey (Mean Girls, 30 Rock) as California local, Tammy; Maya Rudolph (Bridesmaids, The Good Place) as Naomi, who’s holding in a big secret; Rachel Dratch (Broad City, Bob’s Burgers) as birthday girl Rebecca, a psychoanalyst who’s got plenty of her own issues; Ana Gasteyer (The Goldbergs, Lady Dynamite) as workaholic Catherine and Paula Bell (Big Mouth, Love) as the obsessive Val, to name but a few. There’s also Jason Schwartzman (Mozart in the Jungle, Moonrise Kingdom), who never seems to age, as the devilishly handsome chef, Devon.
Is it worth the hype?
Certainly. There’s a reason these women have such a believable chemistry: because it’s comes from a real friendship. There are scenes where the women can riff off each other without it entering Judd Apatow mumblecore territory. And these women sure do know their way around a comedy – after the monumental success of Bridesmaids saw a deluge of comedies that centred around the nuances of female friendship, but very rarely did one get it right. Wine Country is no Bridesmaids, of course (will anything ever be as good?), but it gets the minutiae of relationships between older women so right. And if anyone is concerned that a film about middle-aged women could be boring, then you’re wrong – these women are at the peak of their comedy game. We know that Netflix invests in anything and everything these days, but this is Netflix frivolity at its best – if you’re an SNL fan you’re likely to recognise the names and faces of the main cast, but those who aren’t au fait with the American variety show probably won’t know who half these women are. But the streaming service, as ever, has put its faith in a narrative path that has thus far been less explored, and it’s definitely paid off.
Wine Country is on Netflix now.
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