Sideways is a 2004 American comedy-drama road film directed by Alexander Payne and written by Jim Taylor and Payne. A film adaptation of Rex Pickett's novel of the same name, Sideways follows two men in their forties, Miles Raymond (Paul Giamatti), a depressed teacher and unsuccessful writer, and Jack Cole (Thomas Haden Church), a past-his-prime actor, who take a week-long road trip to Santa Barbara County wine country to celebrate Jack's upcoming wedding. Sandra Oh and Virginia Madsen also star. The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 13, 2004, and was released in the United States on October 22, 2004.
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Alexander Payne|
|Produced by||Michael London|
by Rex Pickett
|Music by||Rolfe Kent|
|Edited by||Kevin Tent|
Michael London Productions
|Distributed by||Fox Searchlight Pictures|
|Box office||$109.7 million|
Miles Raymond is an unsuccessful writer, a wine aficionado, and a divorced, depressed, alcoholic middle-aged English teacher living in San Diego. He takes Jack Cole, his soon-to-be-married actor friend and former college roommate, on a road trip through the Santa Ynez Valley wine country. Though Cole is still recognized on occasion, his acting career appears to have peaked years earlier, when he had a role in a popular TV soap. He now does commercial voice-overs and plans to enter his future father-in-law's successful real estate business. Miles wants to spend the week relaxing, playing golf and enjoying good food and wine. However, much to Miles' consternation, Jack is on the prowl and wants one last sexual fling before settling into domestic life.
In the wine country, the pair visit Miles' favorite restaurant, The Hitching Post II, and encounter Maya, a waitress with whom Miles is casually acquainted. Jack senses that Maya is interested in Miles, who believes she is married. Jack lies to Maya that Miles' manuscript has been accepted for publication, even though it is only being considered. After dinner at the bar, Maya asks both men what they are up to and Miles responds that they want to "go back to the motel room and crash" which angers Jack. As they are walking back to the motel, Jack tells Miles that Maya did not have a wedding ring on at the bar, implying that she is single as he suspected. At a tasting in a local winery, Jack and Miles meet a wine pourer named Stephanie, who is also acquainted with Maya. Jack is immediately attracted to Stephanie and arranges a double date.
During the date, Miles gets drunk and telephones Vicki, his ex-wife, after learning from Jack that she has remarried. Jack gets upset with Miles about how much he is drinking and asks if he "drank and dialed" his ex wife. The two couples go to Stephanie's home, where she and Jack adjourn to her bedroom for sex. Miles and Maya connect through their mutual interest in wine. Miles also describes his novel to her without rectifying the earlier lie about it being published. Maya says she is finishing a master's degree in horticulture so she can get out of being a waitress. Miles is upset with himself after botching a tender moment with Maya. While in Stephanie's kitchen, Miles awkwardly attempts to kiss her. As they are leaving separately, Miles gives her a copy of his manuscript, which Maya had earlier expressed interest in reading. The next day, Jack tells Miles how great his night with Stephanie was and he degrades the fact that Miles didn't do the same with Maya. He also informs him that he and Stephanie are going for a hike and Miles spends the day alone, later catching them having sex in the motel room.
Jack's affair with Stephanie continues, to the point where he believes he's falling in love; he bonds with her daughter and suggests to Miles that they move there for him to be closer to Stephanie. He wants to call off his wedding. After spending time with Jack and Stephanie at wineries and a picnic, Miles and Maya return to her apartment and have sex. The next day, after spending time with her in town, Miles lets it slip that Jack is to be married. Disgusted with the men's dishonesty, Maya dumps Miles and it is implied by later events that she told Stephanie.
Jack and Miles go to "Frass Canyon" a winery that Miles immediately calls mediocre. Jack is still trying to cheer him up so they go in anyway. On finding out his manuscript has been rejected, an upset Miles tries to get the Frass Canyon server to give him a "full pour" of wine. When the server refuses, Miles ends up drinking from the spit bucket in the tasting room, creating a scene. Jack intervenes and drives Miles, his shirt heavily stained, back to the motel. Upon arrival, they see Stephanie waiting with an odd look on her face. Jack pulls out a large stuffed animal meant for her daughter and an angry Stephanie hits him in the face with her motorcycle helmet, screaming about his impending wedding and his supposed love for her. Miles takes him to the ER and Jack accuses him of leaking the wedding information which Miles repeatedly denies. Jack states that his broken nose might ruin his voice over career. That night, Jack hooks up with another waitress named Cammi, who recognizes him from his acting career. Miles is disgusted that Jack is going to waste their last night and morning golf plans by running off with Cammi. Jack states that that is his nature and he can't help it. Hours later, Jack shows up at the motel – naked and confessing that Cammi's husband came home while she and Jack were having sex. Jack was forced to flee without his clothes and wallet (which contains a pair of irreplaceable wedding rings). He convinces Miles to sneak into the house, where he discovers Cammi and her husband having sex. Miles grabs the wallet and runs, barely escaping Cammi's irate husband, who pursues him in the nude.
To explain his broken nose to his fiancée, Jack runs Miles' Saab 900 convertible into a tree, giving the appearance they had been in an accident. When the tree damage did not seem to be severe enough to explain his injury, Jack runs the car into a ditch. The pair return to the fiancée's home, where Jack is welcomed with open arms. Miles meanwhile drives away in his battered car.
Following the wedding ceremony, Miles runs into his ex-wife Vicki and meets her new husband. Learning that she is pregnant, Miles hits rock bottom. Alone, he drinks his prized wine, a 1961 Château Cheval Blanc, from a disposable styrofoam soda cup at a fast-food restaurant. Time passes as Miles returns to the routine of teaching school. One day he receives a voicemail from Maya, who says she enjoyed his manuscript and invites him to visit. Miles is seen driving back to wine country and knocking on Maya's door.
- Paul Giamatti as Miles:
Miles Raymond is a cynical and depressed teacher who is trying to get a book published and is now recently divorced. He is to be the best man at his best friend Jack's wedding and is giving him a road trip as a best man present.
- Thomas Haden Church as Jack:
Jack Cole is Miles' self-centered and impulsive best friend. He is getting married in a week but is hoping to sleep with one new woman before he commits himself eternally to his fiancé. Jack doesn't think about the consequences of his actions, but he does seem to care about Miles and wants to help him out with his problems.
- Virginia Madsen as Maya:
Maya is a thoughtful divorced waitress slowly working on a horticulture degree who knows Miles somewhat from his prior trips to wine country. She loves wine and knows she has a very good palate. She describes her ex husband, who had a showy wine cellar, as a fraud and she sees in Miles a kindred wine loving spirit who seems much more genuine.
- Sandra Oh as Stephanie
- Marylouise Burke as Miles' Mother
- Jessica Hecht as Victoria
- Missy Doty as Cammi
- MC Gainey as Cammi's husband
- Alysia Reiner as Christine Erganian
- Shake Tukhmanyan as Mrs. Erganian
- Shaun Duke as Mike Erganian
- Stephanie Faracy as Stephanie's mother
- Joe Marinelli as Frass Canyon Pourer
Impact on wine industry
The film drew attention and increased tourism to the Santa Ynez Valley wine-growing region of California's Central Coast. Throughout the film, Miles speaks fondly of the red wine varietal Pinot Noir while denigrating Merlot. Following the film's U.S. release in October 2004, Merlot sales dropped 2% while Pinot Noir sales increased 16% in the Western United States. A similar trend occurred in British wine outlets.
A 2009 study by Sonoma State University found that Sideways slowed the growth in Merlot sales volume and caused its price to fall, but the film's main effect on the wine industry was a rise in the sales volume and price of Pinot Noir and in overall wine consumption.
A 2014 study by Vineyard Financial Associates estimated that Sideways cost Merlot farmers over $400M in lost revenue in the decade after its release; however this study is, by its own admission, speculative.
The irony is that in the book, Miles' cherished bottle is actually Cht. Petrus; which has always been a predominantly merlot blend, and after 2010, entirely merlot. In the book, Victoria loved merlot, which is what leads Miles to avoid it.
Sideways Pinot Noir
Rex Pickett, author of the novel Sideways, after a three-month research trip in Chile for his 2015 Sideways 3 Chile novel, fell in love with the country, the people, and their wines. In 2018, Pickett launched his own Pinot Noir, named Sideways: "My Signature Series Sideways Pinot Noir is a wine that I believe in with all my heart and soul. After many fits and starts I have finally found a Pinot I’m proud to put my name on."
|Soundtrack album by|
|Released||12 October 2004|
|Label||New Line Records|
|Rolfe Kent chronology|
The original soundtrack album features 15 jazz instrumentals composed and produced by Rolfe Kent and was orchestrated and arranged for the band by Tony Blondal. The album was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for "Best Original Score", and the music proved so popular there was demand for a national tour. Eventually a few cities were chosen to perform in as the composer was too busy to commit to more. The romantic leitmotif shared by Miles and Maya is excerpted from Symbiosis by Claus Ogerman and Bill Evans.
- "Asphalt Groovin'" – 4:00
- "Constantine Snaps His Fingers" – 3:03
- "Drive!" – 3:56
- "Picnic" – 2:15
- "Lonely Day" – 1:40
- "Wine Safari" – 2:13
- "Miles' Theme" – 2:59
- "Los Olivos" – 2:43
- "Chasing the Golfers" – 3:03
- "Walk to Hitching Post" – 2:32
- "Abandoning the Wedding" – 3:25
- "Slipping Away As Mum Sleeps" – 1:00
- "Bowling Tango" – 0:49
- "I'm Not Drinking Any #@%!$ Merlot!" – 1:13
- "Miles And Maya" – 2:26
On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 96% based on 223 reviews, with an average rating of 8.8/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Charming, thoughtful, and often funny, Sideways is a decidedly mature road trip comedy full of excellent performances." On Metacritic the film has a weighted average score of 94 out of 100, based on 42 critics, signifying "universal acclaim".
Time Out described the film as "intelligent, funny and moving", and Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film four stars, saying: "what happens during the seven days adds up to the best human comedy of the year – comedy, because it is funny, and human, because it is surprisingly moving." A surprise hit, Sideways became popular in Hollywood, the US, and internationally. Santa Ynez Valley, where much of the film is set, experienced increased tourism. The film was nominated for dozens of awards, winning many, and was dubbed "the best reviewed movie of 2004."
With the exception of Giamatti, who had already starred in the critically acclaimed film American Splendor, the film was a career breakthrough for the stars. Church and Madsen were each nominated for the Screen Actors Guild Award, Golden Globe Award, and Academy Award for their performances, winning the Broadcast Film Critics Association Award and Independent Spirit Award for their respective categories. Giamatti has since been headlined as "The World's Best Character Actor" by Time magazine. Sandra Oh went on to star in the ABC medical drama Grey's Anatomy, for which she won two Screen Actors Guild Awards and one Golden Globe Award.
Stage and musical adaptations
In 2019 it was announced that Sideways was scheduled to be adapted for a stage musical. Kathleen Marshall is expected to be the director and choreographer for the musical, which is aiming for a spring or summer 2020 tryout in a regional venue prior to Broadway. The musical will have a book by Rex Pickett and the score by Anthony Leigh Adams.
A play adapted by author Rex Pickett from the Sideways novel was produced at multiple theaters in the United States and the United Kingdom, including at the La Jolla Playhouse.
Awards and nominations
Fox International Productions and Fuji TV released a Japanese-language remake of the film in October 2009, often referred to in English as Saidoweizu (the anglicization of its Japanese title). The film is directed by Cellin Gluck and stars Katsuhisa Namase, Fumiyo Kohinata, Kyōka Suzuki, and Rinko Kikuchi, and has a soundtrack composed and performed by Hawaiian-born ukulele virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro.
The remake shifts the setting of the film to Napa Valley. Although listed as an executive producer, Payne was not involved with the remake, although he gave it his blessing. Giamatti declined an invitation to appear in an unspecified cameo appearance in the film.
Pickett wrote a sequel to his novel, Vertical, in 2011, following Miles and Jack on a road trip to Oregon with Miles' mother. However, Payne has declined to consider a sequel to the film. Fox Searchlight owns the rights to the characters, but Payne's lack of interest makes the film a non-starter for Fox.
- Sideways at Box Office Mojo
- Reynolds, Julia (2006-08-13). "Going Ape For Grape: Annual event celebrates all things wine". Monterey County Herald.
- Harlow, John (2006-03-06). "Oscar winner knocks sales of merlot wine sideways". The Sunday Times.
- Simon, Joanna (2006-06-04). "Sauce". Food & Drink. The Sunday Times. p. 47.
- Valdespino, Anne (2007-07-25). "Don't forgo Merlot: The wine's popularity has declined, but it can still be a foundation for a tantalizing tasting party". The Orange County Register.
- Asimov, Eric (2006-12-13). "Panned on Screen, Merlot Shrugs And Moves On". Dining & Wine. New York Times. pp. F10. Retrieved 2007-10-30.
- Murphy, Patsey (2005-08-13). "California dream". Irish Times.
- Stimmell, Gordon (2007-03-17). "More to merlot, you know". Arts. Toronto Star. pp. H07.
- Cuellar, Steven S. (January 2009). "The 'Sideways' Effect A test for changes in the demand for Merlot and Pinot Noir wines". Wines & Vines.
- Froymovich, Gabriel. (July 2009). "Sideways 10 Years On: The Cost to Merlot Farmers Has Been More Than $400M". Vineyard Financial Associates.
- "Sideways (2004)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2011-01-04.
- "Sideways" at metacritic.com.
- "Time Out London". Timeout.com. Retrieved 2010-10-11.
- Chicago Sun Times by Roger Ebert.
- "The World's Best Character Actor". Time. 2005-05-31. Retrieved 2010-05-23.
- "Empire Features". Empireonline.com. Retrieved 2010-10-11.
- "101 Greatest Screenplays". Writers Guild of America, West. 2013. Retrieved September 15, 2016.
- Rooney, David (May 2, 2019). "'Sideways' in Development as Broadway Musical". The Hollywood Reporter.
- Meyer, Dan. "Kathleen Marshall to Direct and Choreograph Sideways: The Musical" Playbill, October 7, 2019
- "'Sideways' gets Japanese remake". Variety.com. 2008-11-06. Retrieved 2010-10-11.
- "'Sideways' Returns, Uncorked for Japan". The New York Times. 2009.
- Martin, Peter (2009-03-30). "Paul Giamatti Kinda Trashes Japanese Remake of 'Sideways'". Cinematical.com. Retrieved 2010-10-11.
- Mercer, Chris. "Sideways 2 film unlikely, says author". Decanter.com. Decanter.com. Retrieved June 1, 2014.