Snotchocheez's Reviews > Sideways

Sideways by Rex Pickett
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Mar 04, 2011

it was ok

When "Sideways" came out a few years ago, I remembered promising myself to read the book; given that I thought the movie was generally pretty interesting, and that it (rather, Alexander Payne) won an Oscar for best adapted screenplay, I figured it would be worth taking a look at the source material. I wouldn't say that Rex Pickett's oenophilic buddy novel was terrible or anything, but I really don't see how Alexander Payne saw the kernel of a great story in this vapid, moribund homage to wine (as channeled through, say, Laurel and Hardy) and turned it into a pretty interesting and funny movie.

The idea is fascinating (to me, anyway): Jack, a well-off actor wants to have a last fling before getting married in Paso Robles, California, and recruits his best friend Miles, a not-yet-published writer (and Pinot Noir afficionado) to take a week-long road trip through the Santa Ynez valley (the poor man's Napa, as it's described), culminating in a Pinot Festival at Fess Parker's Vineyard outside of Buellton.

The biggest problem with this novel was our two protagonists, Jack and Miles: Jack, the stereotypical man of privilege, had one thing in mind while on their wine tour (getting laid), and his whole character (a one-dimensional cutout, exhibiting zero wit and charm as he channels every bad-boy actor ever in trying to get some action before his wedding)...and has a proclivity for punctuating every comment to friend Miles with the word homes (as in "What the f*** are you doing, homes?" like he was some sort of gansta from the annoying affectation when read once becomes insufferable after about 50 instances of it). And then there's his friend Miles (our narrator) who just can't stop whining long enough to care about his Gourmet-magazine-esque descriptions of the wines they sampled on their tour ("full-bodied, with undernotes of butterscotch, cardamom and raspberries")...coupled with him kvetching and puling about never getting published and watching his friend Jack try to boink the entire female population of Buellton. It's tedious in the extreme, and it's certainly a testament to Mr. Payne (and the tremendous acting jobs of Thomas Haden Church and Paul Giamatti, who breathed life and humor into the roles of Jack and Miles) to turn this whiny-wine fest into something worth watching on the big screen.
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Reading Progress

March 4, 2011 – Started Reading
March 4, 2011 – Shelved
March 15, 2011 – Finished Reading

Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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message 1: by Manny (new)

Manny Damn! I also loved the movie...

Snotchocheez I don't know if you'd appreciate the book more than I did (or, rather, didn't); it was pretty similar to the fact, it read like a screenplay, rather than a novel (minus the "exeunt, stage left" verbiage), which might be why the characters seemed like cardboard cutouts rather than the fully-realized characters portrayed in the movie...dunno...your mileage may vary.

message 3: by Manny (new)

Manny Oh, I hate that kind of book. Thank you for the warning :)

message 4: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen Rats, I had high hopes for this one, since the movie was so great. (PS - CL,CL - get on it!).

message 5: by Ron (new) - rated it 2 stars

Ron I just wrote my review and yours echoed a lot of what I was thinking. In some instances the movie can be MUCH better than the book. Usually it's the opposite.

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