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Sideways (2004)

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Paul Giamatti, Thomas Haden Church, ... | GIAMATTI AND HADEN CHURCH
Image credit: Sideways: Merie W. Wallace
GIAMATTI AND HADEN CHURCH

Details Limited Release: Oct 22, 2004; Rated: R; Length: 124 Minutes; Genres: Comedy, Drama; With: Paul Giamatti; Distributor: Fox Searchlight Pictures; More

Director Alexander Payne says he's made a buddy comedy. Sure, in the same way 1999's wickedly dark ''Election'' was a teen movie. And the plot, based on the novel by Rex Pickett, sounds Payne-ful: Paul Giamatti (whose role George Clooney reportedly was interested in) is a depressed divorcé who takes his altar-bound friend (Thomas Haden Church) on a wine-tasting week that results in bachelor-party debauchery. ''I play this guy who's cultivated this ersatz sophistication -- I'm a writer! A wine expert! -- but I'm just a failed writer and a drunk,'' says Giamatti. ''We'll see if people think that's funny. Though I still say Payne should have gone with Clooney.'' With his fourth feature, Payne isn't messing too much with the sardonic style that's earned him acclaim -- and decent box office. In fact, there may even be a little overlap with 2002's ''About Schmidt.'' ''I show my bare ass in one scene,'' says Giamatti. ''But hopefully not in a disturbing, Kathy Bates-in-a-hot-tub way.''

WHAT'S AT STAKE ''Both 'Election' and 'About Schmidt' doubled their money,'' says Payne. ''As long as I can keep that going, all is well.''

Originally posted Aug 10, 2004 Published in issue #779-780 Aug 20, 2004 Order article reprints