Sunday, May 12, 2019

Film Review: "Wine County" and RIP Peggy Lipton

Ana Gasteyer whips out the Molly in "Wine Country"

"Wine Country," now in theaters and on Netflix, is directed by Amy Poehler, who co-stars as the insecure control freak Abby on a weekend getaway with gal pals played by fellow SNLers Rachel Dratch, Maya Rudolph, Ana Gasteyer, Paula Pell and Emily Spivey.

Of course throughout the movie the characters compulsively slurp wine, our socially acceptable but not very interesting inebriant. The group talks about microdosing Molly, but doesn't do it, mainly because they don't know how it will react with all the prescription drugs they're taking, including Wellbutrin, Xanax, Zoloft, and "WhoYaGonnaCallTrex."  Zoloft, being a Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI) arguably already works as a microdose of psychedelics, since those substances flood the brain's serotonin receptors. Usually people taking SSRIs don’t feel the affect of psychedelics.

"Apparently we're just not that interested in doing drugs," Abby announces, to which Spivey's character astutely responds, "Except for the thousands of drugs we just listed." Instead, the 50-year-old birthday girl Rebecca (Dratch) lays on the floor all night in back pain to have her needed revelation (which sounds a lot less pleasant than taking a little MDMA).

"Toking" is also only mentioned, as a means of coping alongside soaking in a tub, by an amusingly butchy character played by Tina Fey. Then the script makes her a cokehead. Poehler recently pronounced herself unproductive on pot and had a bad time the day after she tried Molly (she wasn't asked about wine). Maybe someday like Chelsea Handler she'll figure out that cannabis can enhance creativity, and it's safer than alcohol. SNL was certainly funnier when its writers and actors smoked weed.

Emily Spivey, Paula Pell and Maya Rudolph in "Wine Country"
Cherry Jones as the inaptly named tarot card reader Lady Sunshine is a highlight in the film (as Jones always is), and Gasteyer is pitch-perfect reading messages into her phone, complete with punctuation. I also liked Jason Schwartzman who "comes with the house" and Maya Erskine as the young love interest of Pell's character, who leads the ladies to an art show where they can hate on millennials. But to me the funniest characters are played by the seldom-seen Pell as vintage store owner Val, and Spivey's character Jenny as a writer with Social Anxiety Disorder, something marijuana is also better for than alcohol or pharmaceuticals.

Predictably, "Wine Country" devolves into ridiculous physical antics as it tries to ape a male buddy film, instead of letting the multitalented Maya Rudolph sing (although the scene where she tries to is the one time I laughed uproariously). The soundtrack rocks out, starting with Tokin' Woman Chrissie Hynde, plus Rita Coolidge singing "We're All Alone" and "Magic" from Olivia Newton-John. I like it best when the gals break into song or dance, something women are more likely to do when we get together. And I will doubtlessly be repeating their tag line, "What we say now" soon, and often.

Six other Netflix shows this year depict women smoking pot: (One Day at a Time, The Last Laugh, Dead to Me, CuckooMrs. Maisel and Grace & Frankie). They've also added Weed the People to their lineup. I'm waiting for them to produce "Cannabis Country."

P.S. As I write this, the news has broken that the beautiful Peggy Lipton has passed away. Despite being an "it girl" hippie chick of the swinging 70s, Lipton called marijuana "a crutch" (lumping it in with diet pills and cocaine) in her autobiography Breathing Out.

Writing that pot helped her 18-year-old self deal with the depression and anxiety brought about by sexual abuse she suffered as a child, Lipton found her way to low doses of Prozac instead (which, I guess, she didn't consider a crutch because it's a pharmaceutical).

Prozac, BTW, is another SSRI, so in effect another microdosed psychedelic. 

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