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Overall Rating
4.36

Awesome65.37%
Worth A Look: 18.54%
Average: 7.32%
Pretty Bad: 3.9%
Total Crap: 4.88%

17 reviews, 103 user ratings


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Sideways (2004)
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by Laura Kyle

"Harold and Kumar: Mid-life crisis."
5 stars

If you fast-forwarded Harold and Kumar go to White Castle about 15 years, you'd get a small hint of Sideways -- just replace the burger joint with a winery and oh, have Alexander Payne (About Schmidt, Election) write and direct.

Miles is down on his luck. He's been divorced for two years, is holding out for a book deal, but pays the bills as a middle-school English teacher. He's lonely and depressed -- providing his own personal commentary track of his dead-end life to buddy Jack. Jack's acting career has been diminished from soap star to a voice in commercials, but he takes life a lot less seriously than his glum friend, and is probably a lot happier as a result. He's a "glass half-full" (even if it's completely empty), kind of guy, which certainly causes the always-negative Miles to butt heads with him on more than one occasion.

Before Jack's wedding, Miles sets out to take him on a 1-week tour of California wine country and perhaps play a few rounds of golf. But Jack has his own mission: to get Miles laid, and also do a little living himself. Jack practically shoves Miles into a relationship with Maya, a waitress and fellow wine connoisseur, and promptly seduces Maya's friend Stephanie.

Sideways is essentially a "coming of middle-age" story about two men, one who's watching his life pass him by, always coloring inside the lines, and one who's likely to destroy his life, always coloring outside the lines. It's not a story, however, about two best friends who change each other for the better, just in time for a happy ending.

Writer/director Alexander Payne is far too busy molding his shockingly real, very human characters, to appease a Hollywood producer with "cuteness." He tells like it is, but luckily for us -- in a brilliant, poetic, and often funny, way.

Payne doesn't abuse his metaphors (wine being the most glaring of them). He is fully aware his characters must develop on their own, so he doesn't soak props, for example a bottle of wine, in too much symbolism, which is why the metaphors actually work.

How he manages to ground Sideways in such deep-seated honesty and still breathe such artistry and hope into each scene is a remarkable feat, one that probably has him preparing an acceptance speech for one of the Oscars Sideways is banking on come February.

As for the cast, well, it doesn't get any better than this. The beautiful Virginia Madsen is nothing short of perfect as Maya, and Paul Giamatti is Miles, or was, at least on the set of Sideways. He's as pathetic as he is frustrating as he is relatable. How he didn't get a nod from the Academy is a shame, especially considering this is The Role of his career.

However, the Academy did notice supporting actor Thomas Hayden Church, as Jack, and rightfully so! Church pulls off the "loveable jerk" like I've never seen it pulled off before. He transcends every cliché he could've fallen victim to, and somehow gathers up three dimensions for a guy who is basically a single-minded idiot -- effortlessly. And Sandra Oh, as his mistress, hits all the right notes, some quite funny, without ever getting in the way of her three co-stars.

There's a scene where a character laments about how publishers aren't looking for good novels, but marketable ones. Sideways is the prime example of such a screenplay: a masterpiece, but no big stars or catchy pitch backing it up.

Fortunately, Payne has proven himself in the industry and didn't need those things to get Sideways into movie theatres. If only that was the fate of every solid script passed from one hand to the other and then eventually thrown out with the garbage. (Meanwhile Hilary Duff signs on for another major studio picture that probably hasn't even been written yet.)

But alas, Sideways did get made. And it's clever, it's sad, and hilarious at times -- and it didn't sacrifice one ounce of truth either. So brace yourself for one of the most genuine, and not to mention ingenious, films in recent memory.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=10451&reviewer=369
originally posted: 01/30/05 20:01:46
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Chicago Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Chicago Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Starz Denver Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Starz Denver Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Toronto Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Toronto Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 New York Film Festival. For more in the 2004 New York Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

2/21/15 PAUL SHORTT ENTERTAINING, ENGAGING, WELL MADE AND WITTY WITH GREAT PERFORMANCES 5 stars
4/17/11 Quigley One of the most superbly directed and acted films ever made. 5 stars
3/10/09 Dane Youssef 2004 Was A Great Year. A Glorious Vintage. May It Age As Well As "Citizen Kane" 5 stars
9/14/08 Annie G One of those lame movies that reviewers like because not much happens. 2 stars
12/03/07 SamanthaP so freaking overrated!!!! of it hadn't been hyped it would have been good 1 stars
10/29/07 mb So boring and overrated !! 1 stars
5/27/07 fools♫gold Nice stuff. B, perhaps a B+. 4 stars
5/08/07 R.W.Welch Slack in spots, but has above par script. B- 4 stars
12/24/06 David Pollastrini boring, dull, etc. 2 stars
9/13/06 Bitchflaps Giamatti inspires real empathy for his character. Don't be put off by its twee appearance. 4 stars
8/20/06 Luisa Wonderful, intelligent comedy/drama, love Paul Giamatti! 4 stars
8/19/06 Verrine Does "comedy" mean something different to reviewers? 1 stars
5/23/06 Gary Bastien This movie stunk. A movie for wine snobs. Don't let them know even know what Pinot wine is 1 stars
3/29/06 Charles Blair Barry Makes you want to kill every charater in this highly overrated sac of shit! 1 stars
3/18/06 MP Bartley Swingers 20 years and 1 nervous breakdown later. Giamatti and Church are sublime 5 stars
11/12/05 Monster W. Kung Seems pretty good stuff to me. 4 stars
11/05/05 millersxing winetasting (snore), men behaving badly (yawn), recapturing the will to live (priceless) 4 stars
9/26/05 a. kurlovs very dull characters, plot and humor. perfect movie to fall asleep to. 2 stars
9/14/05 Jonathon Holmes best film of 2004, Oscar should be ashamed to snub Giamatti & rob Madsen of her award! 5 stars
7/26/05 Jake A comic masterpiece 5 stars
7/06/05 Charlie Besides when those sick bastards smashed that beautiful Saab 900, this is a great movie! 4 stars
6/30/05 Mark thought the buzz was for something; no -boring and dull 2 stars
6/27/05 JFK good movie, good script, thomas haden church in his best performance 4 stars
6/26/05 Jeff Anderson Fantastic. I became a huge Virginia Madsen fan thanks to this film. She's truly awesome!!!! 5 stars
6/08/05 Tigger Great ensemble film, I will watch it a second time to follow the star a little bett od 4 stars
6/08/05 Agent Sands Giamatti has great timing and carries one hell of a touching movie. 4 stars
6/07/05 DM Funny and well-acted (WHY THE FUCK DIDN'T GIAMATTI GET AN OSCAR NOMINATION?) 5 stars
6/06/05 Indrid Cold An essentially flawless drama/comedy. Too bad there's nothing really new to say. 5 stars
5/30/05 Kathy Ugh!!! 1 stars
5/28/05 tabitha I was soooo disappointed! I am amazed this movie won awards. 1 stars
5/25/05 Jake A comic masterpiece. The #1 best film of 2004. 5 stars
5/21/05 Kellie i don't see what the big deal was and i like paul giamatti...too bad 3 stars
4/29/05 ThroneofBlood Funny and heartfelt. 5 stars
4/14/05 Scott Lamont This movie, like wine gets better with time, and it peaks before your eyes. 5 stars
4/11/05 Monday Morning Only in a few spots does this movie not rock. Shows that good writing trumps special efx. 5 stars
4/07/05 Eugene Mortensen living near wind country I know people like them and I liked the movie a lot 4 stars
4/02/05 brody horan only has one nut because the other got bit off by his butt buddy 5 stars
3/27/05 Sid Savillo/Novelist/Scriptwriter Miles is like wine; “evolving” into something, til the end when he imparts a better “taste" 5 stars
3/26/05 Greg Ursic A great film: Giamatta was hilarious and too bad he was totally overlooked at Oscar time 5 stars
3/25/05 Marci Jenkins Excellent! 5 stars
3/24/05 Lars One of my all time favorite movies 5 stars
3/24/05 Dana Gordon You just have to feel for Miles and Jack 5 stars
3/19/05 Green Grenlim Has some great moments 4 stars
3/09/05 dbx Loved it! really really funny. Kinda reminded me of Swingers a bit... 5 stars
3/06/05 Josh Basically a sentimental buddy cartrip movie. Disappointing. 3 stars
3/03/05 HORAN THE MAN!!!!! THIS MOVIE SUCKED MY LEFT NUT SIDEWAYS!! 1 stars
2/28/05 Jeff Anderson One of the best films I've seen in a long time! The leads are great, but Madsen ROCKS!!!!!! 5 stars
2/25/05 L.G. If you have low expectations, you might enjoy it.. some laughs, but kind of depressing 3 stars
2/24/05 Mary JD Thought it to be bvery comical and sweet! 5 stars
2/18/05 malcolm wonderful acting, pretty funny, but overrated 3 stars
2/16/05 Melody Arneil I kind of thought of it as being a coming of age film for adults. Fascinating wine info! 4 stars
2/14/05 Natalie Stonecipher Cheap imitation of Farrelly-esque comedy -- more mean-spirited & less funny. 2 stars
2/14/05 Nathan Wilhite What an awsome movie. I never knew Pinot could be so fascinating! 5 stars
2/12/05 Littlepurch Very enjoyable. Sweet, sensitive and occasionally hilarious. The two hours flew by. 5 stars
2/10/05 David Bennett Wonderful film, a "must see" 5 stars
2/08/05 Gil Carlson Sweet, funny and moving film, first rate! 5 stars
2/07/05 craig varney great laughs and great chemistry 4 stars
2/06/05 Jeff Anderson A TRULY GREAT & SWEET FILM! Giamatti, Church, & especially Madsen are astonishingly great!! 5 stars
2/06/05 cookie boring 2 stars
2/05/05 bongeezer Over Rated.... Nice for wine education. 3 stars
2/03/05 Clifford C Gardner good fim and a wine education 4 stars
2/03/05 the Grinch Alex Payne just gets better and better. A beautiful, subtle, ridiculously funny movie. 5 stars
2/01/05 Danita Berg A fantastic movie! Made me wish I liked wine. 5 stars
2/01/05 Kenneth Hannan Great performances and unforgetable moments. 5 stars
2/01/05 pym a very good film. cute, quirky, sweet and funny. 5 stars
2/01/05 Andrea Haresign way cute & entertaining 5 stars
2/01/05 Robert Pfeifer I'm ready to see it again !!! 5 stars
2/01/05 AngeFaitore I love Thomas Haden Church... but I still think he's selling out to his cult fanbase! 4 stars
2/01/05 Alison awesome movie! 5 stars
1/31/05 Lisa Craven Loved it and want to watch it again and again. 5 stars
1/30/05 nick2k felt a lil overdrawn, but it was a really good (and funny) story. great ending too! 5 stars
1/30/05 Gretchen Lowe Very good, worth seeing twice for the acting! 4 stars
1/29/05 John Bale Gentle but overlong comedy with aromas of truth and the grape. 3 stars
1/29/05 govenar didn't live up to my expectations 3 stars
1/27/05 Bert Rito Giamatti was fucking robbed of an Oscar nom. This is pure brilliance in a wine bottle... 5 stars
1/21/05 Uncle Phucker Not a great film but a great time. I had a ball and the actors and dialgoue blew me.... 4 stars
1/13/05 Koitus "No, no .. the new ("Barely Legal") one! // Now Miles .. don't $@#% it up!!! Grt lines! 4 stars
1/07/05 Elizabeth S Some poignant moments, but highly overrated. Good to see Haden Church again. 3 stars
1/02/05 Jim Good performances, sharp writing 5 stars
12/29/04 burton miller funny, excellent dialog, real - a must see 4 stars
12/27/04 Steve Very well made movie. 5 stars
12/24/04 Craig best movie of the year 5 stars
12/16/04 Peter This film made me want to gouge my eyes out 1 stars
12/14/04 Suzz Great acting/great writing/great directing 5 stars
12/13/04 Janelle Definitely the best pic of the year! 5 stars
12/04/04 bodhi speaks this was one of the best movies i've seen in ages. makes me want to get serious about life 5 stars
12/01/04 Leonetti Merlot Best American movie in years. Virginia Madsen is outstanding 5 stars
12/01/04 Dirt Whore absolutely superb!!! 5 stars
11/28/04 seymour i am surprised i lasted the 45 min. that i stayed...the worst, and i rarely walk out a dump 1 stars
11/23/04 adrian christie wry humor and lots of truthful insights into relationships 5 stars
11/23/04 Chris Absolutely loved this film. Great writing, great acting and hilarious. 5 stars
11/21/04 ajay Drove 45 minutes to see this and wasn't disappointed. 5 stars
11/16/04 Taylor Fladgate I laughted, I cried, I wanted to drink a lot of wine afterwards 5 stars
11/15/04 Naka Nothing groundbreaking, but it doesn't matter. Top-quality all around. 5 stars
11/06/04 Kira W. Best film of the year - Academy, take notice! 5 stars
11/03/04 Naka Simply amazing, a subtle little nugget of genius. 5 stars
11/02/04 richard weininger everyone can find something of themselves in this film. 5 stars
10/25/04 Luke One of the best films I've seen. 5 stars
10/07/04 Boobie Bookie Stinking, rotting - I take it back, dang it! It was OK, not half bad, darn it! 3 stars
10/06/04 Norman Hollyn Fabulous, incisive, involving. 5 stars
9/28/04 film jerk two guys drink and whine - who cares??!!! 2 stars
9/27/04 AngeFaitore Thomas Haden Church: Sellout 2 stars
9/13/04 Gregory very good 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  22-Oct-2004 (R)
  DVD: 05-Apr-2005

UK
  N/A

Australia
  26-Jan-2005




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