sidewaysbluMiles (Paul Giamatti) is the guy that just can’t seem to win. He is something of a middle aged Charlie Brown. He is in what appears to be an unfulfilling career as a school teacher and he has recently gotten divorced. Miles last hope for redemption in life is that his novel will get published which is currently being shopped around by his agent. Miles can’t worry about that now though because his best friend Jack (Thomas Haden Church) is about to get married and Miles plans to take Jack out to wine country as a sort of one on one bachelor party. Miles has plans of a week long low key male bonding trip but Jack has different plans. Jack envisions a week of chasing women and cutting loose and the contrasting bachelor party ideas collide as the two head out to wine country…

‘Sideways’ is not for everyone. Although classified as a comedy I think of this as more of a character examination movie. Sideways is a character driven movie and is primarily about Miles as he attempts to deal with the shambles he feels his life has become while at the same time trying to be a gracious host to Jack as Jack stomps all over Miles plans for their week in wine Country. As you watch you see Miles go through an emotional roller coaster ride as he deals with Jack who is almost his polar opposite, tries to get over his ex wife and looks for something positive to hope for in the future as he indulges in the last thing he truly enjoys which is drinking good wine.

This film effectively has two stars – wine and Paul Giamatti. In this film’s best moments, wine is employed as a character. When he discusses wine, Miles speaks as if he’s discussing some long-loved, reliable friend. In the scenes where Miles is alone, drinking, you almost feel as if two actors are on screen, so palpable is Miles’s passion.

Miles’s favorite wine, Pinot Noir, functions as a metaphor for his own personality. In describing why he loved his ex-wife, he speaks fondly of her palate. When slowly wooing a new potential love, Miles asks her his ultimate getting-to-know-you question – “Why are you into wine?” Giamatti inhabits the role of Miles so completely; you wouldn’t even call it acting. He is at times melancholy, at others frustrated, at others just plain drunk, and his journey is perfectly, and frequently humorously, set against the lush beauty of California wine country.
Movie Content: 3.5/5

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Print/Audio Quality

The print is presented in 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 with a 1.85:1 aspect ratio. Colors are soft with accurate looking flesh tones. Black levels are deep with shadows having a nice defined look. Details are above average as expected. Grain is subtle yet present throughout the entire film.
Print Quality: 3.5/5

The audio is presented in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix. This is a film that will not rock the house from an audio standpoint. ‘Sideways’ is very light on sound effects from the rears as this is more of a front heavy presentation. When there are sound effects through rears, they do sound good. The soundtrack uses the soundfield a bit more than I expected. It helps give the sound that little dynamic punch. With this film being so dialogue driven, it takes the spotlight here. Dialogue comes through the center rather clean and crisp.
Audio Quality: 4/5

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Special Features

  • Audio Commentary by Paul Giamatti and Thomas Haden Church
  • Deleted scenes – there are a total of 8 deleted scenes.
  • Making of Sideways Featurette – a very short making of ‘Sideways’ featurette which will be disappointing to fans.

Special Features: 3/5

The Final Word

Unfortunately, a film that could have been wonderful, especially in the way Miles was written and portrayed, was tainted by Thomas Hayden Church’s Jack. It’s not that his character was unlikeable – it was just plain uninteresting. On Blu-ray, the film has above average video and audio that will make fans of the film very happy.
Overall Rating: 3.5/5