It’s Friday night. I’m alone because the husband is traveling for business and I’m on a clean eating reboot so I can’t drink. I’m good though…I’ve got Netflix, club soda with lemon juice and my heating pad. Scrolling through my multiple TV subscription programs and I see Wine Country on Netflix. Hmmm, what’s this? Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, Maya Rudolph…okay, you’ve got my attention. Six long-term friends headed to Napa for a wine country weekend to celebrate a birthday? <Clicks play.>
I was immediately sucked in. Biting wit, midlife humor and likable characters. It’s rare I find a movie that I can relate to as much as this one, on an actual realistic level, as in, I get this movie. THIS MOVIE GETS ME.
Now that my youngest is graduating from high school in two weeks, I’m getting ready to acknowledge that I really am in the middle phase of my life. I’m not ‘old,’ but I’m not really ‘young’ anymore either. Midlife. Hmmm, not sure I’m a fan of that word and what it denotes, but I’m working on embracing where I’m at and enjoying it for what it is instead of regretting how fast life speeds by or worrying about what’s ahead.
The six main characters of this movie — seven, if you count Tina Fey’s character, Tammy — are all in the midlife phase, or just about to get there. They’ve headed to Napa, leaving behind a melange of lives, jobs and problems, to celebrate the 50th birthday of Rachel Dratch’s character, Rebecca.
As idealistic as a weekend in a luxury home on a vineyard with a pool, a personal chef and driver may sound, anyone who has ever been around a group of women drinking knows that they’re all just one glass away from disaster.
Each of the women has come to the trip with her own set of issues. As close as they feel they are, they realize partway through, as Val keeps asking “Why does no one tell each other anything?” that maybe they’re hiding different things for different reasons.
Each woman has her moment, where things are revealed and each does it in their own unique way, some more colorfully than others. Each woman also proves her love for the rest by calling them out on their ish while providing the sincere support that only a tight knit group of women can.
There are so many good scenes in this film, it moves quickly, but there’s a standout scene where the ladies are talking about their group relationship and how it’s like a family. That got me thinking about how there are phases in a woman’s life, starting when we’re young and friends are easily acquired. As the years go by, we hit phases of trouble and growth, and not all of those friendships survive. By the time we enter the phase of realizing we no longer have time for the mediocre, it’s a lot harder to make friends. We’re busy, we’re set in our ways, we’re less interested in changing and let’s face it, we’re complacent and don’t want the work of starting over.
Despite that, friendships begin when we don’t even try, and we soon see that we have people in our life that were meant to be there. We’ve got the commonality of having had friends, lost friends and started to protect our hearts more. We also care less about fake and care much more about people that we can be ourselves around. These people become the family that the Wine Country ladies exemplify and we build our own version of “things we say now” over the years.
Copious amounts of wine, lingering worries, differing personalities and approaches to what a vacation or birthday celebration actually means all come together to bring out both the best and the worst among the ladies. Yet, in the thick of it all, they still have each others’ backs. Literally.
We should all be so lucky.
And I am. I have not only solid individual friendships formed from different walks of life, but I am part of an amazing group of ladies like those in the movie. We’re from different stages in life, but when there’s a problem, we’re there. Where there’s a birthday, we’re holding a party. This week, as I’m alone while the husband travels all week, they check in on me. Lonely day working at home? I have their hilarious gif-filled texts to make me choke inappropriately on a conference call. They also tolerate my potty mouth and alternatively shock me with their own vocabulary. I couldn’t ask for more.
The ladies of Antonio’s Pizza have a certain lack of concern for the rest of the world that comes from complete trust and security with each other, whether they realize it then or not. They don’t need to impress Devin, the chef/driver, or the sommelier, or any of the other customers at the wineries. They get mad at each other, but when there’s a scary phone call or an urgent health issue, the anger is put aside while they fix the problem.
As often happens with any real-life group of women, one feels as though she’s less important than the rest, and to quote Rebecca, “If I may offer some feedback,” it’s not only her biased perception but it’s her own fault. That initial unwelcome feedback ended up changing her life in a profound way.
These six ladies are as different as the pajamas they bring, but as they re-bond on a hill at a winery, life is short. Do the things. Get over your fears. Stick together. And don’t wear white.
Watch Wine Country on Netflix. It is a clever movie that will have you appreciating your friends, realizing that they’re the family that you choose, and making you wish you could rent the house they stayed in….and maybe even keep Devin the personal chef around. That paella will be ready some day.