Predictably good

Bottle Shock's themes may not be new, but the flick's charming

REVIEW The year is 1976, the American Bicentennial, and snooty British wine seller Steven Spurrier (Alan Rickman) decides to organize a blind taste test, pitting French wine against the then-fledgling California wine. While in Napa he meets Jim Barrett (Bill Pullman), a perfectionist, and his long-haired surf bum son Bo (Chris Pine). Impressed by Barrett's Château Montelena chardonnay, Spurrier hopes to include it in the competition. It isn't too difficult to see where all of this is headed, not only because the outcome of the 1976 blind taste test is obvious every time we drink wine produced in the Napa Valley, but also because Bottle Shock isn't exactly blazing any new territory. The characters are all familiar: an earnest father, his slacker son, and a budding Mexican vintnerready to get out from under the thumb of his white boss. The subplots are equally familiar: a strained father-son relationship and a love triangle. Nevertheless, there is something warm and charming about Bottle Shock. It's one of those based-on-a-true-story, America-as-underdog movies that are as predictable as they are hard to resist.

BOTTLE SHOCK opens Wed/6 in Bay Area theaters.

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