Uncorked

★★★1/2

“Uncorked” in the kind of movie that could appeal to two very different groups.

The new Netflix exclusive film centers around an African-American man in his mid-to-late twenties, played by Mamoudou Athie, who works at his father’s barbecue restaurant in Memphis. It was passed down from his grandfather to his father, played by Courtney B. Vance. It’s expected that he’ll take it over some day soon.

The movie goes into great detail about the type of wood they use to create the fires that give that just-right smokey flavor to the famous ribs.

You’re mouth is already salivating and you’re thinking of films like “Soul Food” and other films dealing the African American food experience.

But quickly in this movie we realize that the young man has no interest in following in his father’s footsteps. Instead, he has a passion for wine and dreams of passing his test and becoming a Master Sommelier, a feat accomplished by less than 300 people currently living worldwide.

So, now you’re thinking of movies like “Sideways” that glorify wine-drinking.

Really, “Uncorked” is a film that doesn’t fit into any neat category and people of different races and interests can enjoy this underdog story. If there’s a theme that unites everything: this is a person chasing their dreams and persevering even when faced with obstacles. It’s like “Rocky or “8 Mile.” I’d even compare it to another small indie film that Athie had a small supporting role in: “Patty Cake$”

All those movies are about chasing your dreams.

And, of course, the young man’s father discourages his passion for most of the film.

It’s somewhat ironic because the same passion and attention to detail that he puts into his BBQ is the same details that his son loves about wine. In fact, the opening credits contrast the winemaking process — growing grapes, fermenting them — with the BBQ process. Both are slow processes and labors of love.

You don’t have to be a wine drinker to enjoy “Uncorked” but you might find yourself wanting some ribs or wine after a few minutes of watching.

(Many of us will hear them describe wine in such intricate details and think, “Did they really taste all of that?” )

The movie get predictable so I can’t give it the highest grade possible, but I expected predictable when I sat down and it somewhat exceeded my expectations. Athie and Vance have nice chemistry and Niecy Nash (you know her from the TV show Reno 9-11) gives a great performance as his mother and she’s really the heart of the movie.

It’s a breezy 104 minutes with a few lines that you’ll chuckle at. Nothing really offensive in this film. There are a few F-bombs, some PG-13 level sex and some uncensored rap music playing in the background but there’s nothing vulgar about this movie.

“Uncorked” was supposed to premiere at the SXSW Film Festival but was moved to Netflix when the event was cancelled due to the coronavirus crisis.

If I were to compare this movie to a wine, I’d say it’s a middle-shelf grocery store bottle. It’s not a high-priced bottle that I’d save for a special occasion. There’s nothing rare or unique about it. But it’s nice on a relaxing evening with your significant other. Very approachable and for the price —included free with your Netflix subscription — it really hits the spot. Uncork this one.

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