Very funny and very sad, Sideways is smashing. The story is simple: wine-loving wannabe writer Miles (Paul Giamatti) is taking failed actor Jack (Thomas Haden Church) on a week-long tour of California's wine region to celebrate his old friend's upcoming marriage. But while Miles wants to relax, drink and play golf, Jack is determined to get laid one last time before settling down. Their adventures make for a charming, moving comedy about friendship, love and regret.
"You need to get your joint worked on Miles," says Jack, showing just how different these two characters are: the crass actor and the sensitive writer, linked by being roommates at college, but by little else these days. Viewers will probably identify with one or the other, but the beauty of the script is that these are rounded, believable people with recognisable failings and strengths - one is not superior than the other.
"REAL SOUL AND EMOTION"
So, while Jack is a bit dim, crude, and thinks largely with his crotch, he's also enthusiastic, loyal and embraces life. And while Miles is funny, clever, and knowledgeable, he is also timid, drink-dependent, and crippled by insecurity ("I'm so insignificant I can't even kill myself...").
Giamatti is a superb actor, but the revelation here is Haden Church, a TV actor giving what may prove the performance of the year. He's gifted terrific lines by writer/director Alexander Payne, but gives his part great heart too. Because for all the laughs, there's real soul and emotion here; a sparkling blend that slips down a treat.