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Bottle Shock

Bottle Shock

3.7 27
Director: Randall Miller

Cast: Alan Rickman, Chris Pine, Bill Pullman

Brought together by a curious twist of fate on a dusty California road, a wandering vintner and a struggling winemaker find both their lives, and their careers, forever transformed at a blind Parisian wine tasting that introduced the world to the extraordinary wines of Napa Valley. The year is 1976, and Napa Valley has yet to gain the reputation as one of world's best


Brought together by a curious twist of fate on a dusty California road, a wandering vintner and a struggling winemaker find both their lives, and their careers, forever transformed at a blind Parisian wine tasting that introduced the world to the extraordinary wines of Napa Valley. The year is 1976, and Napa Valley has yet to gain the reputation as one of world's best-known wine regions. Jim Barrett (Bill Pullman) has sacrificed everything in life to realize his dream of creating the perfect Chateau Montelena. Yet despite the fact that Jim's Napa Valley vineyard has great potential, his son, Bo (Chris Pine), doesn't seem to have much interest in the family business. Most days, Jim and Bo can be found trading blows in their backyard boxing ring -- their attempts to knock a bit of sense into one another usually amounting to naught. Meanwhile, in Paris, British expatriate Steven Spurrier (Alan Rickman) finds necessity dictating that he educate Parisians on the latest wines to come out of California. Steven owns the Académie du Vin, and is eager to travel to the United States in order to ensure that he has conducted his research properly. Little did Steven and Jim realize that they were both on course for a chance meeting that would revolutionize the wine industry while opening up a whole new world of possibilities for wine lovers everywhere.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Nathan Southern
Starring Bill Pullman, Alan Rickman, Chris Pine, Freddy Rodriguez, and Rachael Taylor, and co-written and directed by Randall Miller (Marilyn Hotchkiss Ballroom Dancing & Charm School), the character-driven seriocomedy Bottle Shock impresses with its innate intelligence and fine execution. It's a beautifully wrought and marvelously entertaining picture. Upon release, the film drew some critical complaints insisting that it merely represented a reworking of Alexander Payne's Sideways. The two movies share a common backdrop of viticulture, but the similarities begin and end there. In fact, a comparison of Sideways and Bottle Shock proves the old film-school adage that the originality of a feature lies rooted in its characters; it makes one realize that an intelligent screenwriter and director could author 50 different features set in a vineyard and render each one unique and original simply by reslating and redrawing the ensemble. Bottle Shock's thematic focus differs radically from Sideways, as well; Miller and his collaborators zero in on the working-class folks who staffed the Chateau Montelena vineyards in the Napa Valley during the 1970s, and recreate the events surrounding their legendary contest-driven defeat of the French that opened up the proverbial floodgates to California wine for decades to come. This account, of course, represents a first for a mainstream Hollywood film; though Miller enlists an underdog angle familiar to Hollywood product, he achieves originality by laudably recoloring and reshaping those conventions. On the level of docudrama, Miller's film scores a bull's-eye; he has history in his corner by honing in on a fascinating tale that sings with the offbeat by default, much as the adaptation of the colorful Nike tome that was floating around Hollywood in the late '90s promised to do if ever realized. That alone would seem to poise the film for some degree of success, but more impressive is the extent to which Miller draws out the historical characters and imbues them with life, color, humor, and audience interest. Miller may not quite enter Coen Brothers territory here, but he shares their love of offbeat characterization by plunging the audience into a most entertaining ensemble. On that note, some of the film's greatest strengths lie in its enlistment of Rickman as Steven Spurrier, a snotty and elitist British wine merchant who sets the tale in motion. At the outset of the story, his Parisian wine proprietorship is flailing; encouraged by a neighboring merchant (Dennis Farina) to diversify, he launches a well-publicized taste-testing contest that will gauge Californian wines on the basis of their increased presence in the market, then flies out to visit Montelena and neighboring establishments to sample their vintages. All told, this represents some of the best work Rickman has ever done; he's both subtle and wickedly funny, and imbues the picture with the off-center comic relief it needs. In his best moment, he responds to another character's inherent dislike with, "Of course, you think I'm an *sshole. Very well. But then again, I'm British, and you're not." It's the line we've been waiting for him to deliver for an hour, and he finally hits the nail on the head. Pullman impresses equally, though he sounds different notes. As Montelena proprietor Jim Barrett, a self-declared upstart who broke away from the boardroom to stake out life as a Northern California entrepreneur (but lies out of touch with the extent of his own instincts and abilities -- therein lies the twist and the depth), the actor lets a torrent of conflicting emotions come bubbling to the surface. He has two scenes here -- an emotional breakdown and a drunken release on the floor of his winery -- that elevate this once-mediocre actor (the star of such dull fare as Casper) to a whole new plane and could easily win him a wealth of critical respect. Age has refined Pullman, divesting him of the geeky awkwardness that once seemed to cripple him, and giving him a dignity and nobility that he long seemed to lack -- the sort of dignity and earnestness that came naturally to actors like Glenn Ford. The core of the drama involves Barrett's emotional disconnect from his long-haired hippie son, Bo (Chris Pine), whom he perceives as a ne'er-do-well, little realizing the extent of the young man's inner magnanimity or bravado. Miller's skill lies not merely in his ability to shape the historical events into an entertaining docudrama, as noted, but in his unusually deft ability to juggle that element with the said human drama and comedic elements imparted by Rickman and Farina. And that's one impressive feat. The picture does fall short of perfection. Let it be noted that Jim and Bo Barrett and Steven Spurrier only represent three of six key characters in the narrative, and the other three feel somewhat underdeveloped. Miller probably felt concerned about helming an indie picture in excess of two hours, but this modest film could easily have reached the level of a masterwork if he had extended the narrative by 30 or 40 minutes, enabling him to explore the lives and substories of intern Samantha Fulton (Taylor), Hispanic vineyard worker Gustavo Brambilia (Rodriguez), and vintner Mr. Garcia (Miguel Sandoval) more thoroughly and deeply. (It would have made a superb miniseries.) In light of what the film does offer, that can be forgiven. All told, it may not qualify as the best film of 2008, but it's a vastly enjoyable movie just the same.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
20th Century Fox
Region Code:
[Wide Screen, Color]
[Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround]
Sales rank:

Special Features

CC; Four deleted scenes; An Underdog's Journey: The Making of Bottle Shock; Chateau Montelana: one winery's search for excellence; Audio commentary with cast & crew

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Alan Rickman Steven Spurrier
Chris Pine Bo Barrett
Bill Pullman Jim Barrett
Rachael Taylor Sam Fulton
Freddy Rodriguez Gustavo Brambilia
Dennis Farina Maurice Cantavale
Bradley Whitford Professor Saunders
Miguel Sandoval Mr. Garcia
Eliza Dushku Joe
Hal B. Klein Shenky
Kirk Baily Loan Officer
Philippe Bergeron Pierre Tari
Louis Giambalvo George Taber
Greg Collins Trucker
Luis Saguar Man #1
James Hiser Man #2
Geoff Callan Man #3
Marcia Firesten Karen Thompson
Matthew Kimbrough Michael Robbins
Laurie O'brien Laura
Kathy McGraw Ms. Relyea
Joe Regalbuto Bill
Al Liner Hotel Clerk
Deborah O'Brien TWA Attendent
Brian Leonard Passenger #1
Karl-Heinz Teuber German Passenger
Maximilienne Ewalt Passenger #2
Frank Avila Field Hand
Richard Gross Lt. Randall
Mary Pat Gleason Marge
Valerie Long Vinter #2
James Carraway Vinter #3
Marian Filali Odette Kahn
Phillipe Simon Claude Dubois-Millot
Andre Tardieu Upscale Man
Jody Savin Upscale Woman
Mark Famiglietti Waiter
Randall Miller Patron
Roy Jimenez Shopkeeper
Jean-Michel Richaud mâitre d'

Technical Credits
Randall Miller Director,Editor,Original Story,Producer,Screenwriter
Bill Abraham Associate Producer
Mark Adler Score Composer
Robert Baizer Executive Producer
Tim Bellen Camera Operator
Aurora Bergere Makeup
Randall Bingham Associate Producer
Erik Cleage Executive Producer
John Colton Associate Producer
Joe Davis Executive Producer
Merv Davis Executive Producer
Elaine Dysinger Co-producer
J. Todd Harris Producer
Diane Jacobs Executive Producer
Art Klein Executive Producer
Jillian Ann Kreiner Costumes/Costume Designer
Brenda Lhormer Producer
Marc Lhormer Producer
Jack Miller Associate Producer
Dan O'Brien Editor
Michael Ozier Cinematographer
Lannette Pabon Original Story
Rick Pagano Casting
Brian F. Relyea Associate Producer,Asst. Director
Dennis S. Sands Sound Mixer
Jody Savin Original Story,Producer,Screenwriter
Dan Schryer Executive Producer
Ross Schwartz Original Story,Screenwriter
Mario Signore Camera Operator
Craig Stearns Production Designer
Nelson Stoll Sound/Sound Designer
Marc Toberoff Producer
Phil Trubey Associate Producer
Frank Williams Associate Producer

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Bottle Shock
1. Main Titles [2:23]
2. Calistoga, 1976 [1:44]
3. Academy of Wine [5:17]
4. Broken Places [2:18]
5. Promotion's the Key [3:18]
6. You Didn't Say Please [:42]
7. In His Blood [2:11]
8. I Hate Secrets [6:07]
9. You're a Snob [2:14]
10. Taking On the French [3:39]
11. He Pays for It? [:27]
12. No Ambition [2:26]
13. On Your Own [4:06]
14. Worshipping the Vine [4:17]
15. Galileo's Sunlight [3:15]
16. Bubble of Surprise [1:57]
17. Did You Sleep With Her? [5:56]
18. One Per Passenger [3:52]
19. It's Brown [:03]
20. Too Perfect! [3:37]
21. Just a Scruffy Brown Dog [2:35]
22. That Is Some Chardonnay! [5:40]
23. My Vote Goes to Bo [2:12]
24. A Tough Bunch [1:25]
25. Tallying the Vote [3:43]
26. Welcome to the Future [4:03]
27. At the Smithsonian [5:10]
28. End Titles [:13]


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Bottle Shock 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 27 reviews.
NY_Reader1 More than 1 year ago
This was one of those quiet, Sunday afternoon movies. It's based on a true story, which makes it even more interesting. The "special features" has interviews with the actual people on which the story is based, so don't miss it.

Alan Rickman is great in this movie.

Oh, and the wine? It's VERY good.
tartantart More than 1 year ago
I loved this movie. The acting was very good, Alan Rickman was outstanding, the supporting cast came in with very strong performances. The movie moved along at a decent pace at no time did I feel bored. I thought the film crew did a decent job of capturing the essence of the book "Judgement of Paris". In the 70's, Napa was still a sleepy little town, and in the valley, wine making was more of a passion than a big business. Of course that has all changed but it was wonderful to escape for 2hrs and revisit what once was. I do recommend buying the book "Judgement of Paris" as it ties the loose end of the movie and is an interesting read as well. Great for a Sunday afternoon.
ttNV More than 1 year ago
A really interesting story, well told. Alan Rickman was great as usual. Refreshing to watch a good story without all the noisy special effects.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Alan Rickman is such a great actor. I have always appreciated his comedic timing as well as, his range of characters and ability to make them his own. He dose not dissappoint in this little gem. Being a child of the early 60"s the music is wonderful, the story was a interesting surprise for me, knowing very little of the history of wine making in America. All I can say is "try this movie." I think you will be pleasantly surprised and entertained. Salude!!
CJMistral More than 1 year ago
Bottle Shock is a treat for any wine lover who has wondered how California was able to meet and match France on the winemaking plain. From a humble beginning the California winemakers kept the dream alive even if it was only for each other's delight. Bottle Shock portrays eminent winemakers in their infancy & their innocence. The plot, characterization, and humor make for great entertainment. The characters are compelling & I had to watch it a second time to see if I could figure out who all the real winemakers were. Alan Rickman is pitch perfect, as always, and a perfect foil to the laid-back Californians. The plot and action move effortlessly and the viewer learns a few secrets about winemaking. I'm a restaurateur & a Wine Spectator Award winner...and I loved this movie. I bought it for my staff to watch & I would recommend it to anyone with an interest in wine.
CoolGram More than 1 year ago
This looked to be a witty and delightful movie BUT the DVD was defective and kept skipping and freezing. <SIGH> Be sure to watch yours before the 14 days are up.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved "Bottle Shock", but I must say I think I'm in the minority. It is a slow-paced movie, so if you want a zippy, quippy, clipped-and-quick moving film, this isn't for you. But it is clever, visually lovely, and all the better because it's a true story. And of course few actors can do snide quite as well as Alan Rickman! Seeing him travel through California vineyards and encounter one quality wine after another, forcing him against his inclinations, to admit that the wine was not only good but REALLY good, is very funny. The subplot (obligatory romance between young pretty people) is weak, but not horrible.
AnnFinn More than 1 year ago
I love movies based on true events and this was one of those. However, the story moved SO slowly that I was impatient at times watching it. LOVED the parts that showed the California wine country - the opening scene was incredible. The acting was "OK". The parts that explained about wine making were very interesting. It makes you realize how risky the whole business is. I also thought the prediction made at the end of the movie about how we would be seeing wines from all over the world was great since the prediction was made in the 1970's and it has definitely come to pass.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
So totally off!!! The real story is found in the book "Judgement in Paris" which is very good. The scriptwriter took the oddest pieces of the book and twisted them to make a semi interesting movie. Bo in Paris? Barrett as the master winemaker? Spurrier as a witless englishman? Where are the real winemakers?
RUSSIAN_WOLF More than 1 year ago
Bought this dvd because we own a vineyard... The start was extremely slow... Having sex scenes not a plus... As the movie progressed it was very funny and my husband and I enjoyed the movie...
BlufftonJD More than 1 year ago
This is based upon a true story.
Polski More than 1 year ago
Excellent for anyone that has traveled the Sonoma/Napa valleys!!!
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