A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Wine Country is a comedy about six longtime BFFs who take an extended weekend trip to Napa Valley to celebrate a 50th birthday. Amy Poehler's feature-film directing debut is a collaboration between six real longtime friends, all of whom worked together on Saturday Night Live in the 1990s. That results in a relaxed, anything-goes ensemble movie. Viewers can expect lots of raunchy conversation (e.g., "s--t my-pants," "69-ing," "shaving pubes"), profanity ("ass," "d--k," "f--k" in many forms, "son of a bitch"), and sexual references (e.g., "boning," "semen," a major vibrator display) that seem to have become an integral part of comedies like this one. And "wine country" isn't just a place that's famous for its bountiful red and white varieties. In this movie, for these six women, glasses are almost never empty; they're imbibing from first light to late night, with some inevitable, comic drunkenness. One character encourages ingesting MDMA ("Molly"), but no one takes her up on it. Sexual activity is referred to (including lesbian relationships), bare breasts are glimpsed in one scene, and a couple wakes up together in a morning-after moment. The movie is about grown-ups and for grown-ups; it will have little appeal for most teens.
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What's the story?
It's Rebecca's (Rachel Dratch) 50th birthday weekend in WINE COUNTRY. Self-appointed "tour director" Abby (Amy Poehler) has orchestrated the trip from top to bottom, minute by minute. Always a little uptight, Abby can't help but be disappointed when the others aren't as gung-ho as she'd like them to be. For instance, Catherine (Ana Gasteyer), a successful restaurateur, can't tear herself away from her cell phone; Naomi (Maya Rudolph), a committed mom, is silently distracted by impending medical news; Val (Paula Pell) is dealing with loneliness and a broken heart; and Jenny (Emily Spivey, also one of the film's writers) isn't sure she even wants to be there. Still, expectations are high; wine is flowing. The appearance of the rental's owner (Tina Fey) and a "chef" who comes with the house (Jason Schwartzman) bring even more eccentricity to the already heavily populated table. Over the long weekend, mini-conflicts arise, personal struggles are slowly revealed, and the women's loving connectedness is tested to the extreme.
Is it any good?
It's doubtful that any audience could have as much fun as these six best friends appear to be having, even as middle age descends upon them almost without warning. Light on plot but bountiful in character and laughs, Wine Country and the fabulous house at the center of the action are ideal settings for women coming to terms with the half-century marker.
There are wonderful comic sequences. Maya Rudolph is in peak form, and it's great to see Rachel Dratch with a substantial role. In fact, everyone delivers, even those who play familiar roles (the uptight organizer, the workaholic businesswoman, the touchy-feely psychotherapist). Amy Poehler provides a seemingly loosey-goosey, improvisational atmosphere for these terrific actresses to work their magic, and her years in the business have fine-tuned her comic timing and ability to capture a character's heart. As raunchy comedies go, it's worth the time for older teens and adults.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the profusion of profanity, potty language, and swearing in Wine Country. What does the characters' unreserved frankness tell you about them? Do you think it operates as a shortcut to getting to know these women and introduce their longtime connections? Have audiences come to expect this kind of language in "buddy" movies? How do you feel about that?
In some movies, locations and/or settings are considered "characters." How were both Napa Valley and the rental house characters in this film? How did the specific locales dictate behavior and plot?
Movies are either plot-driven, action-driven, or character-driven. Which of these best describes Wine Country? Explain.
What did the film say about friendship? Why do you think some female friendships are so long-lasting and intense? What character strengths (e.g., loyalty, empathy) make good friends?
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