Plonk is a Britishism for cheap, low-quality wine — not undrinkable, by any means, just nothing special. As much could be said for this film, lightly based on the helium-weight plonk of a best-seller by Peter Mayle.
Some movies begin as a dream, some as a story, some as a business deal. And occasionally, there is one that begins as a vacation. Actor Russell Crowe and director Ridley Scott are both fond of the south of France. Et voila! Let’s make a movie so we can write it off!
It’s a long way from their previous collaboration, Gladiator. Crowe plays a financial wiz who scores a fortune through a maneuver that might just be on the other side of that fine line that separates the legal from the il. Just then, as he is celebrating his success and preparing for a suspension pending the investigation, he learns that his uncle has died, leaving him the winery that was the place of his fondest childhood memories, but of course is a place he hasn’t given it a thought in years and years. Cue the music — we’re ready to be, as we know he must be, enthralled and beguiled. Next stop, sunny quirkville.
The setting is irresistible, of course, and it is nice to see cross Crowe coping without text messaging, assistants, or sleek, gleaming surfaces and minimalist design, and getting his hands (and more) a bit dirty. But the script doesn’t deliver on what it promises us with all that golden light and faded plaster. There’s some muddle about a possible other heir (a pretty girl) and a feisty waitress (another pretty girl). Like plonk, it goes down without much fuss, but doesn’t give us anything to remember.
Parents should know that the movie has some rough language and some sexual references, including an out of wedlock child who creates inheritance concerns. There is a lot of drinking (a character gets tipsy), some smoking, some comic peril, and a sad offscreen death.
Families who see this film should talk about the places and people that are most special to them and why.
Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy Enchanted April and Local Hero.