Part of the problem with director Randall Miller's shambling tale about what has come to be known as the "Judgment of Paris" is in the casting. Alan Rickman is fine as Steven Spurrier, the haughty oenophile whose Parisian shop is struggling until he comes up with the notion to sample some Napa nectar and get publicity for his efforts back in France. And Pullman, as the debt-plagued patriarch of Chateau Montelena, has the look of a harried dreamer, working the barrels for that perfect vintage.
But too many actors ring wrong, including Dennis Farina as a Spurrier buddy and moocher back in Paris, and Rachael Taylor as a wine country Daisy Duke, the comely young apprentice to Barrett.
More problematic is Chris Pine, playing Bo, the hippie Barrett scion - a deadbeat who rubs his dad the wrong way, and who, of course, ends up saving Chateau Montelena from ruin. There's not much to like about Pine's Bo - and that's OK, there wasn't much to like about Paul Giamatti's Sideways sad sack, either. But Giamatti inhabited the role so fully that liking wasn't an issue. He made the guy real.
Pine, alas, does no such thing. He swaggers around with a stoner smirk, annoying the heck out of his father and running scams at the local bar with his buddy, Gustavo (Freddy Rodriguez).
Pine isn't believable for a second, and his character is key to the story. And then the moment of truth arrives: the judges' samplings of the wines, in a rustic spot "just outside of Paris."
Right. Bottle Shock has a case of the no-budget blues: Clearly, this location is somewhere in Napa, with a fleet of collectors' Citroens parked in front to Frenchify the place.
Contact movie critic Steven Rea at 215-854-5629 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Read his blog, "On Movies Online," at http://go.philly.com/onmovies.