3.5 25
Director: Alexander Payne

Cast: Alexander Payne, Paul Giamatti, Thomas Haden Church, Virginia Madsen


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Directed by Alexander Payne, Sideways follows Miles (Paul Giamatti), who is distressed about his lack of success as a novelist, and Jack (Thomas Haden Church), an equally unsuccessful actor with a rapidly approaching wedding. In a last-ditch effort to sow their wild oats, Jack and Miles take off on a final road trip to California's wine country the week priorSee more details below


Directed by Alexander Payne, Sideways follows Miles (Paul Giamatti), who is distressed about his lack of success as a novelist, and Jack (Thomas Haden Church), an equally unsuccessful actor with a rapidly approaching wedding. In a last-ditch effort to sow their wild oats, Jack and Miles take off on a final road trip to California's wine country the week prior to Jack's wedding. Both men have goals for the vacation -- Miles wants to turn Jack on to the art of wine tasting, while Jack is concerned with exploiting his last days as a bachelor -- but when the two men come across two fascinating women (Virginia Madsen and Sandra Oh), the duo is forced to examine their morality, and if maturity isn't such a depressing prospect -- at least, for one of them. ~ Tracie Cooper

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Bill Pearis
Would-be author Miles Raymond (Paul Giamatti) is in a rut. He’s divorced, just north of 40, eking out life as a junior high school English teacher -- and every publisher in the business has turned down his novel. Wine is his real passion -- the Pinot Noir varietals in particular -- although his oenophilic aspirations have lately devolved into excess. His best friend, Jack (Thomas Hayden Church), a small-time actor who is now lucky to get cast in the odd commercial, is considering going to work for his fiancée's father. Before the impending nuptials, Miles takes Jack on a weeklong tour of California's Santa Ynez valley wineries. Miles is in search of the perfect Pinot; Jack is just looking for a last fling. When they meet two women (Virginia Madsen and Sandra Oh), things get considerably more complicated. This is the setup for the warm and funny Sideways, a combination buddy comedy and road film that never travels the obvious path. The most critically acclaimed film of 2004, Sideways lives up to the hype, just as Lost in Translation, winner of the Best Original Screenplay Oscar, did the year before. Director Alexander Payne and writing partner Jim Taylor have crafted a near-perfect little movie that doesn't aim to be big or important. These characters could easily have been portrayed as pathetic losers, but thanks to a sparkling screenplay (based on Rex Picket's novel) and nimble performances by Giamatti and Church, Miles and Jack are likable despite their deep flaws. It helps, too, that Madsen and Oh make such perfect foils for the wayward duo. As in their earlier gems, Election and About Schmidt, Payne and Taylor juggle the hilarious and the tragic deftly -- arguably to the greatest effect in their young careers. For anyone who has ever found themselves somewhat adrift in life, Sideways will resonate even more deeply.
All Movie Guide - Josh Ralske
When it comes to playing a schlub, Paul Giamatti has no peer. His ascension to the status of lead actor is a godsend for lovers of cinema, and it's hard to overstate his accomplishment in following up his wonderfully nuanced performance as crank Harvey Pekar in American Splendor with his heartbreakingly rich lead performance as Miles Raymond in Sideways. Other actors excel at playing sad sack characters, but few are as adept as Giamatti at precisely dramatizing self-inflicted misery. Sideways, Alexander Payne's fourth feature, is a funny, engaging, and thoughtful film with many virtues, but it's hard to imagine that anyone else could have brought Miles to life with such vibrancy. He's the most self-aware of Payne's pathetic antiheroes, and as a result, Sideways is Payne's most humane and hopeful film. It's as acerbically funny as Election but with a soulful humanity best expressed in a phenomenal scene in which Miles and Maya (played with warmth and sharp intelligence by Virginia Madsen) take turns explaining why they love wine. It's a simple scene rendered transcendent by gorgeously believable dialogue and the conviction of two superb actors playing at their best. The fragile bond between Miles and Maya is the soul of the film, grounding the more outrageous antics of Jack (Thomas Haden Church) and Stephanie (Sandra Oh), which are played with equally revelatory expertise. Sideways is a small buddy movie but wonderfully detailed. It's captivating enough to win converts to the grape and conveys a wealth of lived knowledge about male bonding and its discontents.
Entertainment Weekly - Lisa Schwarzbaum
It's an intoxicating feeling when a movie excites and enlivens us like this -- and there's a particular giddiness to be had in thinking about what movies can (but don't often) do for one's soul after imbibing such a fine vintage.
Chicago Sun-Times - Roger Ebert
The characters are played not by the first actors you would think of casting, but by actors who will prevent you from ever being able to imagine anyone else in their roles.
The New Yorker - David Denby
In this role Giamatti gives his bravest, most generously humane performance yet. Women may be repelled, but men will know this man, because, at one time or another, many of us have been this man.

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Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Fox Searchlight

Special Features

Full-length wudio commentary by Paul Giamatti and Thomas Hayden Church; 7 deleted scenes; Behind-the-scenes featurette

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Paul Giamatti Miles Raymond
Thomas Haden Church Jack Lapate
Virginia Madsen Maya
Sandra Oh Stephanie
Marylouise Burke Miles' Mother
Jessica Hecht Victoria
Missy Doty Cammi
M.C. Gainey Cammi's Husband
Alysia Reiner Christine Erganian
Duke Moosekian Erganian, Mike
Robert Covarrubias Mile's Building Manager
Patrick Gallagher Gary The Bartender
Stephanie Faracy Stephanie's Mother
Joe Marinelli Frass Canyon Pourer
Chris Burroughs Chris At Sanford
Toni Howard Evelyn Berman-silverman
Fr. Khoren Babouchian Armenian Priest
Lee Brooks Ken Cortland
Peter Dennis Leslie Brough
Alison Herson Foxen Winery Pourer
Phil Reeves Vacationing Dr. Walt Hendricks
Robert Trow Obnoxious Golfer
Lacey Rae Los Olivos Waitress
Cesar "Cheeser" Ramos Barista
Daniel Rogers Reciting Eighth Grader
Natalie Carter Siena
Simon Kassis Mini-mart Owner
Sevag Kendirjian Armenian Deacon
Heghine (Helen) Harboyan Wedding Vocalist
Gohar Toranyan Wedding Organist

Technical Credits
Alexander Payne Director,Screenwriter
Dondi Bastone Musical Direction/Supervision
Wendy Chuck Costumes/Costume Designer
Frank Gaeta Sound/Sound Designer
Jose Antonio Garcia Sound/Sound Designer
John Jackson Casting
Rolfe Kent Score Composer
T.K. Kirkpatrick Art Director
Michael London Producer
Phedon Papamichael Cinematographer
George Parra Asst. Director,Co-producer
Jane Ann Stewart Production Designer
Jim Taylor Screenwriter
Kevin Tent Editor

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