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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this true story of a 1976 wine contest between French and U.S. wine-makers isn't likely to hold much interest for kids. The opening sequence sets up the youthful "counter-culture" lifestyle of the era, complete with various shots of drug use, alcohol, etc. A love scene between two main characters includes partial nudity and some passionate foreplay but is generally tame by current standards. Some relatively mild swearing is sprinkled throughout and, of course, lots of wine flows.
What's the story?
It's 1976, and French wine reigns supreme ... until peppery Englishman Steven Spurrier (Alan Rickman) decides to prop up falling sales in his Paris wine store by holding a "blind" taste test between wines of the established French and the upstart California wine industries. Meanwhile, in the Napa and Sonoma valleys, Jim Barrett (Bill Pullman) and his neighbors are struggling to gain financing and credibility for their product in the flowering international wine market. Stormy family and romantic intrigues -- along with a "crushing" blow to the grapes at the very last moment -- almost defeat the Californians, but they make their way to Paris for the historic challenge.
Is it any good?
BOTTLE SHOCK gets off to a slow start, attempting to add some fictional spice to the true story the movie is based on by introducing a beautiful female intern to the mix. It goes on to expand the flinty relationship between the father-son owners of Chateau Montelena (a diamond in the crown of the California wineries), and then raises the stakes higher and higher. What's real seems obvious and works best.
By the time we get to the contest, it doesn't disappoint. Nor does the outcome -- but it doesn't surprise, either. Still, the wine country setting is beautiful, the actors have fun with their robust roles, and the movie's appreciation of the wine is contagious.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the father-son relationship at the core of the movie. What does Bo do to earn his father's respect? How do the filmmakers show the changes in this important relationship? What does this movie have in common with other films that tell the story of an underdog going up against a strong opponent? Who do you think its target audience is?
- In theaters: August 8, 2008
- On DVD or streaming: February 3, 2009
- Cast: Alan Rickman, Bill Pullman, Chris Pine
- Director: Randall Miller
- Studio: Consolidated Pictures Group
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 110 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: brief strong language, some sexual content and a scene of drug use
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