It was a grey, rainy Friday afternoon (surprise!) in Houston. All of my mundane obligations for the week had been met, so I decided to treat myself to a glass of wine and an indulgent Netflix session. Efficiently, I was able to merge the two concepts together with Wine Country. Its crisp, earthy notes and deep, elegant bouquet offered me a sumptuous means to spend an hour and 43 minutes.
Wine Country is FUBU for women. It was made for us, by us, proving once again that in any endeavor, too much estrogen is never enough. Oh sure, a few good men contribute here and there, but blessedly don’t dominate. It’s Amy Poehler’s directorial debut. Emily Spivey and Liz Cackowski lead the writers. Lisa Coleman and Wendy Melvoin — better known as Prince protégés, “Wendy and Lisa” — provide the music.
You know the feeling when you’ve been watching various performers for so many years that it seems like you know them personally? Like, if you saw them on the street in real life, you’d be all, “Hey girl, what’s up? Why haven’t you called? It’s OK; let’s hug it out.” And they’d be all, “Security!”
That’s how I feel about Amy Poehler. She is my best friend I never met. And it doesn’t hurt that her resume reads like a blueprint for how to become a comedy legend: From improv to Saturday Night Live to Parks and Recreation to a million movies. She could have stopped with that SNL character, the ADD-afflicted Kaitlin, and still have had a career to be proud of.
That’s also how I feel about Paula Pell, who plays an aging, single-yet-hopeful lesbian in Wine Country. She perfectly captures the essence of her role when she says that “all she wants is to meet a nice lady, make out for a while and then spoon a little bit, and then….” No spoilers here. Watch the movie for the rest of Pell’s delicious imagery.
Pell is less recognizable in front of the camera, but her work as a writer is nothing short of genius. She’s an SNL mastermind. Remember that “Homocil” commercial, a drug that helps parents cope when their gay child comes out of the closet? Not only was that gem Paula’s, but when her co-writers feared it would be offensive to LGBTs, she herself came out, saying, “All right, well, I’m gay, and I’m telling you right now that you can fire me if nobody that’s gay likes this.”
And Rachel Dratch. She cracks me up, too, and her turn in Wine Country doesn’t disappoint. I love her in nearly everything she does, but I love her in a way that respects her craft and would never rob her of her SNL Debbie Downer’s magnificence by unprofessionally stealing the scene because I was unable to stay in character and thought that was OK because Lorne Michaels thinks I’m adorable and… oh, never mind. You get it.
And Maya Rudolph. And Tina Fey. Heaven. What else do you need, besides possibly a nice glass of wine, on a grey, rainy Friday afternoon?
Wine Country’s plot centers around one of the women’s 50th birthday, and the predictable angst that accompanies it. I get it. I’m coming up on one of those milestone birthdays later this summer. I’m too vain to announce exactly which birthday; suffice it to say that lately I’ve been paying a whole lot more attention when Republicans start braying about social security being “an entitlement.”