“Uncorked,” sidesteps the usual dealings caused by poverty and racism to explore its leads’ father/son relationship, to sometimes mixed results.
|Screenplay By||Prentice Penny|
|Date Released (Digital – Netflix Original)||3/27/2020|
|Duration||1 Hour, 44 Minutes|
|Louis||Courtney B. Vance|
This content contains pertinent spoilers.
Elijah, for most of his life, was expected to take on the family barbeque business. His grandfather started it, his son, Elijah’s dad, Louis, continued it, with help from his wife Sylvia, and Elijah was supposed to pick up the mantle. Now, as for why Elijah’s sister Brenda wasn’t part of the plan? Well, she can’t cook. So, it all fell on Elijah, who was cooking with his dad since he was 2 and able to comprehend instructions.
But, many years later, Louis finds himself increasingly frustrated by his son. Why? Well, because Elijah has ventured and pursued anything aside from getting a grasp on the business. The latest pursuit is becoming a master sommelier (someone with expert wine knowledge). An idea so frivolous to Louis that he refuses to support it.
However, taking note of his own dreams he had to give up, so comes the question if, to continue the family legacy, Louis will stick to his guns, or if he will let Elijah be his own man and figure something out.
It Really Gets You Into Wine – 85
Our introduction to Elijah’s wine taste begins with him introducing wines by coordinating them to certain rappers. With that, you can see the desire to mix in what is typically seen as a fancy and bourgeoisie thing with the common tongue. And while this is just the hook that allows Elijah to win over Trisha’s attention, it also gets your mind churning.
Which, considering Elijah’s pursuit of wine leads to descriptions that some may not be familiar with, either due to lack of training or seeing wine as a fancy way to get drunk, it helps immensely.
The Father/ Son Dynamic – 86
It’s an interesting thing to watch someone reject inheriting a business that runs itself. That has allowed your parents to own a house, raise a family, and give you the opportunity to have options. And while there is this need to question why Brenda got off scot-free, considering Louis comes off old-school, and Brenda can’t cook, you get it.
But, what we explore in “Uncorked” is similar to what we often see with Mother/Daughter dynamic movies, just without the child being an emotional teenager. We get a disconnection that relies on a third party to translate, in this case, Sylvia, and the need to question what will happen if that third party is no longer there? Who will step up, if either one does, to allow and create communication?
And honestly, there are times in “Uncorked” where you think the stubbornness of both men could make it so, if something happened to Sylvia or Brenda, these two men may not speak. For Louis thinks his son has an attitude about his life’s work, and that of his father, and as for Elijah? Well, with not having reached a point of settling in life, and still being passionate about what is out there, he finds his father’s job to be more of a backup plan or safety net, than the first choice.
Thus allowing us to move beyond the usual issues we see between Black fathers and sons in regards to racism and having to work twice as hard, and getting to see something different. A story which doesn’t focus on the rich, nor poverty, but the issues which come forth from when you felt you didn’t have an option and the next generation feels your decision should be their last option.
The Romantic Relationships – 80
While neither Sylvia and Louis’ relationship nor Elijah and Trisha’s were crafted well enough to label this a romance, you have to love how real they came off. Meaning, they weren’t lovey-dovey once the honeymoon passed, and they were real. Sylvia and Louis went to bed mad, and him trying to get frisky didn’t lead to laughs and all things being forgiven.
Then with Elijah and Trisha, while things were cute at first, as Elijah struggled with his sommelier exam preparation, we were reminded he is his father’s son. All be coming for Trisha and questioning her advice when she hasn’t gone beyond being a receptionist. And it is in showing the good and bad, without ever hitting rock bottom or showing grandeur gestures that, again, “Uncorked” shows you don’t have to go big and gaudy to be different.
On The Fence
It’s Definitely Going To Feel Almost Two Hours – 70
While well deserving of praise, I must admit this may not be for those who need a laugh or some excitement to get through a two-hour movie. Mind you, this isn’t as dry as a period drama, but it also isn’t trying to be a dramedy or do anything too big. Even Niecy Nash, with her personality on display, isn’t tapped into to provide relief, in some form or fashion. She is a bit more subdued and not allowed to change the intended tone.
The Emotional Moments May Not Hit As Hard As They Should – 71
A tone that even mellows out the more dramatic moments and almost undercuts them. Especially one thing which happens in the film, noted in the ending spoilers below, that should have been a gut punch but comes off as hunch worthy. Leaving you unsure whether the final moments could compensate or if this film is going to be even-toned throughout.
Would Watch Again? – One and Done
Rating: Mixed (Divisive)
Perhaps the main issue with “Uncorked” is that there is a lack of rewards system in place with its story. For getting this far, investing in this person or that, you don’t get any sort of pop. It’s very slice of life, as is, things happen, and people move on. Leaving it where, as much as you get invested in Elijah and Louis’ journey, it sometimes makes it difficult to connect with the characters, and personalize their story. For with no goal here to entertain, be uplifting, or present any heavy drama, this can come off as light fare. The kind which may not stir emotions about your own relationship with your father as much as see “Uncorked” as something to watch and support due to having a Black majority cast as well as Writer/ Director.
For a good amount of time, without Louis’ support, Elijah seemed to be gaining ground in becoming a sommelier. He even, thanks to Sylvia, was given over $3,000 to go to Paris to be immersed in wine. However, with Sylvia’s cancer coming back, being aggressive, and her dying from it, that disrupted Elijah’s education.
In fact, it made him drop out of school and decide to just help his father at the BBQ joint and in opening his more upscale restaurant, aptly named “Sylvia.” But with Louis seeing his son depleted and not really having a zest for what they do, just doing it because it needs to be done, it reminds him of when he gave up on school to help his father. Add in hearing Elijah breakdown wine in action, and he finally encourages his son to get back in the game.
Unfortunately, though, Elijah fails his first time due to his taste and service skills. However, the film ends with him getting ready for his second try. Which, from what we’re told, is when most people actually pass.
Outside of seeing Elijah pass and put his experience to use, we’re pretty much done here. Beyond truly facing his father’s passing and what to do with his businesses, there isn’t much left. Especially with the lack of investment in Brenda and why she is not part of the business, even in terms of just getting supplies and doing the books. Omitting the whole cooking part altogether.
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