A Real Odd Couple
Review by Ross Anthony

I'm a big Paul Giamatti fan ("Duets," "American Splendor"). And I enjoyed "About Schmidt" (also directed by Alexander Payne). So, I felt relatively confident I'd enjoy "Sideways." I was completely right. In addition, Thomas Haden Church's performance as Miles' washed-up actor buddy impressed the heck out of me. I haven't really seen him since he played Lowell the mechanic on the sitcom "Wings."

This is a buddy film -- perhaps a modern reconstruction of "The Odd Couple." The sound track even taps out a swanky jazz theme reminiscent of the distinctive "Odd Couple" theme. The film employs great acting, great dialogue, good humor and strong pace (despite a road trip opening). But what's even more remarkable is its ability to endear audiences to characters that display deplorable flaws. They're real -- sometimes a little too real. Nevertheless, they charm us, just as they're drawn to each other despite they're mightily different dispositions.

A dramedy, the film broaches some important issues such as depression and fidelity, honesty, integrity, but never forgets its comedy. This mix of the serious and the quirky stirs laughter in the audience. Not slapstick; this is intelligent subtle humor. You'll laugh, you'll be appalled at their behavior, and you'll probably learn a thing or two about wine.

Director Alexander Payne says, "I am most moved by stories like SIDEWAYS that are about human beings and human nature, that are about flawed people and ambiguous moments that don't necessarily come to any neat closure. Perhaps too many films in this current era have eschewed humanity for slickness. I'm interested in revitalizing the American cinema of the 70's, with its emphasis on real people and real struggles -- and I think we desperately need human movies right now."

  • Sideways. Copyright © 2004.
  • Starring Paul Giamatti, Thomas Haden Church, Virginia Madsen, Sandra Oh.
  • Directed by Alexander Payne.
  • Screenplay by Alexander Payne & Jim Taylor. Based on the book by Rex Pickett.
  • Produced by Michael London at Fox Searchlight.

Grade..........................A- (3/4)

Copyright © 1998-2023 Ross Anthony, Author - Speaker - Solo World Circumnavigator In addition to reviewing films and interviewing celebs at HollywoodReportCard.com, traveling the world, composing great music, motivational speaking, Mr. Anthony also runs his own publishing company in the Los Angeles area. While traversing the circumference of the planet writing books and shooting documentaries, Mr. Anthony has taught, presented for, worked &/or played with locals in over 30 countries & 100 cities (Nairobi to Nagasaki). He's bungee-jumped from a bridge near Victoria Falls, wrestled with lions in Zimbabwe, crashed a Vespa off a high mountain road in Taiwan, and ridden a dirt bike across the States (Washington State to Washington DC). To get signed books ("Rodney Appleseed" to "Jinshirou") or schedule Ross to speak check out: www.RossAnthony.com or call 1-800-767-7186. Go into the world and inspire the people you meet with your love, kindness, and whatever it is you're really good at. Check out books by Ross Anthony. Rand() functions, Pho chicken soup, rollerblading, and frozen yogurt (w/ blueberries) also rock! (Btw, rand is short for random. It can also stand for "Really Awkward Nutty Dinosaurs" -- which is quite rand, isn't it?) Being alive is the miracle. Special thanks to Ken Kocanda, HAL, Jodie Keszek, Don Haderlein, Mom and Pops, my family, R. Foss, and many others by Ross Anthony. Galati-FE also deserves a shout out. And thanks to all of you for your interest and optimism. Enjoy great films, read stirring novels, grow.

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Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 07:53:46 PDT