Mamoudou Athie shines in the story of a dutiful son who wants to be a sommelier
The stakes could not be lower in Uncorked, a calm romantic drama and first-time feature from writer/director Prentice Penny. Here’s the setup: Louis (Courtney B. Vance) owns a rib joint started by his father, and wants his own son Elijah (Mamoudou Athie) to follow in his footsteps. But Elijah wants to be a sommelier!
That’s right – father and son can’t bridge the divide between different segments of the food and beverage industry. And it’s tearing them apart!
I chuckled a little at the premise, but Uncorked is actually a sweet little diversion. It’s helped that Athie plays such a likeable character, with a ready smile. In the early going he has a vint-meet-cute with Tanya (Sasha Compère), who wanders into the wine store where he works part-time.
“You like hip hop?” he offers, and then walks her through the varieties of whites, explaining that Chardonnay is Jay-Z, Pinot Gris is Kanye and Riesling is Drake. (Note to filmmakers: If this critic immediately gets all your hip-hop references, you’re not trying hard enough.)
Tasting montages are to the sommelier sub-genre what dress-shopping is to marriage movies
Tanya helps convince Elijah that he should follow his bliss and push ahead with his wine education. (Fun fact: The sommelier exam is the only educational requirement where you can drink during the test!)
He makes some new friends in the course and even scores an exchange trip to Paris, which makes a great excuse for some touristy location shoots and bilingual hip-hop on the soundtrack, along with some tasting montages that are to the sommelier sub-genre what dress-shopping is to marriage movies.
Later on, Prentice will throw a medical emergency into the mix as a way of making Elijah think twice about his choices. But it is, any way you open it, about the most genteel generational conflict imaginable.
Uncorked isn’t an especially memorable drama, but in these days of stay-at-home viewing, it’s a passable evening timewaster. Be sure to pair it with something cold: Jay-Z, Kanye or Drake; your choice.
Uncorked is available March 27 on Netflix.
2.5 stars out of 5