Uncorked asks the question “how do you choose between your family and your dream?” Shouldn’t a film about a young man yearning to be a sommelier be as sweet as a Riesling? To my taste, Uncorked is a Cabernet Franc, just too many tannins. Still, if you love wines and wish to explore the world of studying to be a true wine expert, then uncork this bottle. What is it about fathers demanding their sons follow in their footsteps? We just saw it in The English Game, and it repeats here. Much of Uncorked is one uncomfortable moment after another between father and son. I give this one 3.0 Gavels and it has an 89% Rotten Tomatoes rating with a 68% Audience score.
Elijah’s father, Louis, owns and operates a popular ribs restaurant in Memphis. Louis gave up his dream of being a teacher to follow in his daddy’s footsteps. Elijah works a second job in a wine store so he can remain close to his passion. Certain that the study of wine is just another fad, Louis wants Elijah to focus on the restaurant as he is about to expand to a second location. Sylvia, Elijah’s mother in remission from cancer, tries to intervene with some limited success. Will an opportunity to study in Paris thaw relations between the two?
Although his credits include several TV series, Mamoudou Athie flew under my radar. To appear in Jurassic World: Dominion, he appears to a man to watch. As Elijah, he is conflicted, determined, and likable. Courtney B. Vance (American Crime Story) and Niecy Nash (Reno 911!) are Elijah’s parents, Louis and Sylvia. Both are wonderful actors, but Nash is the scene-stealer.
Below, Elijah is about to make an introduction to his worried parents. He says “This is Tanya, she’s my uh . . .” Quickly, Tanya pipes up saying “If I’m here at midnight, helping you clean the restaurant, I better be your girlfriend!” Touche!
In another scene, Louis arrives at Elijah’s hotel. “Did you know they charge a $35 valet fee. For that price, Halle Berry better be in the car when they bring it back.”
Consistent with the theme of conflict, the music in the early parts of the film is rap or hip hop, anything but Neil Diamond. Like the music, it is the early part of Uncorked that is inconsistent. If you stick with it to the last 30 minutes, the music and the plot are much more soothing. Throughout, the dialogue is full of meaning, although sometimes the meanings are painful. As you might imagine, the critics provide you with lots of wine references in their reviews. Let me end with two. “Uncorked is closer to a satisfying, everyday table wine than a rare, award-winning bottle.” And, “as long as Netflix doesn’t begin charging a corking fee, the film is a satisfying weeknight binge.”