Sideways was far from a film that jumped out at audiences at first glance. With a limited opening weekend of four theaters, Sideways was yet another fairly small budget film from Fox that eventually went on to garner a myriad of awards (including five Oscar nominations and two Golden Globe wins) and critical acclaim. The film would eventually go on to gross over $100 million worldwide and shoot stars Paul Giamatti and Thomas Hayden Church into further stardom (though, after Spider-Man 3, Church has been seldom seen). Arriving just in time for Oscar season, Sideways receives the Blu-ray treatment courtesy of Fox to remind Oscar viewers that yes, comedies have been nominated before for Best Picture (and in recent years to boot).
Now even more intoxicating on Blu-ray, this breathlessly funny comedy stars Paul Giamatti and Thomas Haden Church as Miles and Jack, old college buddies who take a wine-tasting road trip through California’s famed central coast to celebrate Jack’s upcoming nuptials. But Miles’ desire to savor the regions’ wines suddenly takes a back seat to Jack’s desire to sample its women! Co-starring Sandra Oh and Virginia Madsen, Sideways “has it all: inspired direction…racing wit and emotional gravity” (Rolling Stone)!
When the film was first touted as one of the big Oscar flick’s of the year, my interest in it was only further piqued. I was already a fan of Giamatti and Church (from his days on Wings) and judging by the trailers alone it looked like a funny enough comedy that would be as intellectual as it was funny. Despite this however, it wasn’t until recently that I ever even saw the film, which allowed my hype for it to die down (by a lot—I didn’t watch it until 2008, four years after it made its Oscar rounds). So when I finally popped the disc in I was excited but not overly so.
What greeted me on the film was something that left me with mixed emotions. While it was definitely an intelligently written and crafted film, it was almost too much of a drama and not enough of a comedy to really relate to it. On top of that I wasn’t exactly within the age range or group of the films target demographic. Sure, there were plenty of antics to laugh at between Church and Giamatti, but when it started to focus in on the relationship issues, I became disinterested in it. Perhaps it was just the way the two men acted, more like characters out of a teenage high school movie rather than a film with adults, but there was nothing really engaging about any of the characters here. One you simply felt sorry for, while the other you wanted to staple his pants to his legs.
Of course that’s not all the film is about; it’s also about finding your way in life at a certain age and all that but for me it just didn’t make for compelling filling. Granted, again, I’m not exactly at the age level (or life experience level) to really appreciate a movie like this. Perhaps in time it’ll appeal to me more, but as someone still in college there just isn’t a whole lot to gravitate towards here.
What is odd is I watched this film for the second time on Blu-ray after watching a myriad of teen-romance comedies and the comparisons between the two are surprisingly shocking. I guess it has to do more with the universal trait of love and social awkwardness than anything, but while my first viewing of the film was putting me in a strange spot of “well I’ve nothing to relate to here,” by the second I understood a bit more about what the film was trying to accomplish anyway.
I’m probably not making sense anymore about my feelings toward the film; don’t get me wrong, it’s a smartly written film with a great cast and superb pacing, but short of a naked men running around and a few witty dialogue exchanges, there isn’t much here to classify this in the comedic category, which make the two “comedy” quotes slapped on the packaging all that more confusing to me.
Still, while it doesn’t appeal to me there is a definite wit and sharpness about the film that will no doubt please some. For what it is it’s an entertaining film and well worth checking out, although keep in mind your age may adversely affect your enjoyment of it. Recommended.
Fox has released Sideways in a single disc release without any notices other than a firmware upgrade and disc art that mimics the cover. No slipcover is included and the menus for the film are simple and easy to navigate. If there were such a thing as a barebones Blu-ray, then this would be it in terms of appearance.
The films already film-like appearance is only further made apparent in the AVC (@34mbps) encoded transfer. The bitrate is quite colossal but despite this the quality jumps between this and the DVD isn’t as drastic as you would think. There are some great looking scenes of wineries and vineyards, but considering most of the film is contained in doors of hotel rooms, restaurants and homes, there isn’t a whole lot to breathe in terms of visuals. Overall it’s a pretty decent transfer, but nothing that I’d say is worth upgrading from the DVD for as the video transfer nor the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is all that impressive.
Extras here are all the same from the previous DVD release and include:
•Commentary by Paul Giamatti and Thomas Haden Church
o Project Searchlight
o Gag Reel
o Wrap Party Slide Show Reel
Overall it’s a solid release for a decent film (though, again, I’m not its target audience so don’t jump at me for that), but if you own the previous DVD release then this really isn’t worth a second glance. There’s nothing on this release that wasn’t previously available and a film like this really isn’t what I think of when I hear “Must have on Blu-ray.” Skip It.
Sideways is now available on Blu-ray.