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Bottle Shock

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It's amazing what veteran actors and a very sweet true story can do to carry a film that otherwise would've foundered due to the unlikeability of several characters and the relative unknowns playing them. Much praise is due Alan Rickman, Dennis Farina and Bill Pullman, who really make Bottle Shock a diamond in the rough.

It's 1976, and Jim Barrett's (Pullman, Independence Day) Napa Valley vineyard is about to go under when British wine snob Steven Spurrier (Rickman, Die Hard) shows up claiming he wants to stage a taste test between California's and France's finest wines. While Barrett desperately tries to salvage the operation, his son decides between continuing his slacker ways or lending a hand, all while the snooty Brit drives about sampling the valley's offerings.

Pullman is at just the right phase of his career to be extremely likeable despite his character's shortcomings. Likewise, after having played several sweethearts and a multitude of villains, here Rickman pulls off the ultimate quirky middle man, elitist and annoying yet perfectly fun. Farina pops up as a neighboring shop keep who tosses Spurrier a few business tips—and his know-it-all mooch is spot on.

The younger actors—and characters—in Bottle Shock definitely are detractors, but the grizzly vets not only salvage but push the film into the extremely enjoyable realm. In addition, the story is true and there are some cool featurettes that bolster the disc's value. This title is one of the better DVD surprises I've found in a while.

This video courtesy of Hollywood Video, 590 Broadway Ave., 208-342-6117.

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