I recently caught the newish Netflix film “Wine Country,” starring comedic fem heavyweights Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, Rachel Dratch, Tina Fey, Emily Spivey, Ana Gasteyer, and Paula Pell.
First off, if you’ve seen the flick, you understand why I chose my title. And if you haven’t seen it, perhaps I’ve piqued your interest.
When the trailer for “Wine Country” first dropped into my e-mail, it was one of those immediate Netflix “Oh, I’ll definitely be catching this one” moments.
Those moments don’t come along every day.
It goes without saying that there’s something about mixing the Wine Country with the likes of Poehler, Fey, and Rudolph that is, well, intoxicating. A very funny gaggle of gal pals beaming into the Napa Valley to reunite and party for a long weekend has an obvious at-first-glance appeal. I was laughing before tuning in.
But can I just say something?
“Wine Country” is a supremely intelligent film. The writing – by Emily Spivey and Liz Cackowski – is genius and unapologetic, subtly weaving incisive commentary on many of the issues women face both contemporarily in the good ol’ US of A and, well, universally. Issues like love and relationships, communication/languaging, work/career, “digitalis” (my term for the symptoms of the downside of our digital age), spirituality, and health.
In golden moments, “Wine Country” shines a gentle but clear light on the ways women sabotage themselves and their relationships with other women while also celebrating connection that is uniquely and magically feminine. The writing is both witty and gritty, often at the same time; its honesty softened by refreshingly irreverent humor.
And as I was watching and enjoying the film, guess what thought crossed my mind.
I’m so glad Netflix allowed this film to be exactly what it is.
Isn’t that a funny thought? Not really. It’s sad that I had it.
But I had good reason to.
Good women’s writing on the screen – any screen – is rare. And when I got a taste of it with “Wine Country,” I hungered for more, savoring every moment of the dish in front of me.
Also because I love it when sobriety is served with a big glass of humor.
Each actress brings her own signature style to the table, and the blend is deliciously hilarious.
Picture it. Six friends from their days waitressing at Antonio’s Pizzeria in Chicago in the ’90s reunite (thanks to the thorough planning by Abby, played by Amy Poehler) to celebrate Rebecca’s (Rachel Dratch) 50th birthday at a beautiful Wine Country property owned by Tammy (Tina Fey).
You get the idea.
Adding deep appeal to the story line is its setting. Filming the adventure in the iconically beautiful Napa Valley provides a backdrop that offers a perfectly ironic and vivid contrast to the goofy, sloppy, edgy, clumsy, and endearing humanity of each gal pal.
And can I just say something else?
There’s no airbrushing here. These women are refreshingly real and diverse. They wear their “womanity” richly, proudly, and untucked.
A soundtrack featuring Chrissie Hynde, The Bangles, and Prince had me rockin’ down memory lane.
And let me just say one more thing.
As I watched “Wine Country,” I felt a nostalgic longing well up within me; a desire to connect, laugh, cry, and party with gal pals from my past, dancing to our soundtrack in our own otherworldly setting.
The truth is, we gals do need each other. We need to show up for each other in a real way. I’m sure the same is true of men, but as a woman, I can definitely say that there is a unique support and care that only women can provide to other women.
And let us not forget this in these momentous times when misogyny is rearing its demonically ugly head.