The Reel Review
Wine Country is the Amy Poehler-directed Netflix buddy flick about lifelong friends forced to confront their own personal issues when they gather in California’s Napa Valley to celebrate their friend’s 50th birthday. It stars a slew of past Saturday Night Live cast members and writers and was inspired by an actual trip the group took to celebrate Rachel Dratch’s birthday. Poehler plays the control-freak trip organizer, with Ana Gasteyer as the obsessive workaholic, Maya Rudolph as the mom facing an uncertain medical diagnosis, etc.
The film feels a lot less like a movie than it does a super laid back, unfocused, hour and a half long (and at times tedious) adlib. While it’s fun for a few minutes to see the old SNL gang reunited, and there are a handful of chuckles, the flimsy story feels awkward and contrived and just isn’t funny – sort of like those throwaway skits that typically end up in SNL’s last 30 minutes. Given such a talented crew, we expected so much more. Hell, just an interview with the cast would have been funnier than this. Boo.
• Wine Country is Amy Poehler’s film directoral debut
• Because of schedule conflicts, Tina Fey played the small role as the owner of the rental house where the friends stay.
• Five of Wine Country’s stars (Rachel Dratch, Tina Fey, Ana Gasteyer, Amy Poehler and Maya Rudolph) were SNL cast members. Two (Paula Pell and Emily Spivey) were show writers.