Review: Wine drama 'Uncorked' doesn't go down easy

Memphis man must choose between his family and his dreams in so-so drama

Adam Graham
The Detroit News

A Memphis man is torn between following in his father's footsteps and chasing his own dreams in "Uncorked," a scattered wine world drama with a hip-hop twist.

Elijah (Mamoudou Athie, "Unicorn Store") longs to be a sommelier, while his father (native Detroiter Courtney B. Vance) wants him to join the family barbecue business, which was passed down to him from his own father. It's a familiar tale of family discord, with notes of "Sideways" and a blaring hip-hop soundtrack thrown in for a mixed finish. 

Mamoudou Athie and Courtney B. Vance in "Uncorked."

Elijah works in a wine store, where early on he compares three different wines to popular rap figures: a chardonnay is Jay-Z, a Pinot Grigio is Kanye West, a Riesling is Drake. (The customer goes with the Drake, even though the descriptions aren't entirely convincing.) Elijah's dreams of becoming a wine expert cause a rift with his father, but he's supported by his warm and loving mother, Sylvia (Niecy Nash). 

Elijah forges ahead and studies for the exam, where his buddies include a pair of annoying wine students (Gil Ozeri and Matt McGorry). A trip to Paris affords Elijah the chance to submerge himself in French culture, but issues back home cause his focus to shift. 

Writer-director Prentice Penny has a good feel for Memphis culture, and he packs the soundtrack with songs by Memphis rappers Yo Gotti, Moneybagg Yo, Blac Youngsta and more. 

But the dialogue often feels stilted and unnatural, and Elijah's passion for wine — explained in a trivial aside — doesn't come through the screen. A movie like "Uncorked" should make you want to reach for a bottle of something special. Instead, it leaves a taste of indifference in your mouth.




Not rated: language

Running time: 104 minutes

On Netflix