If you were stoked to hear about the release of The Ramen Girl, wait until you hear about the next big foodie flick. Oh, wait — you may have already seen it. Twentieth Century Fox is creating a Japanese version of Sideways, the Oscar-nominated comedy about four friends road-tripping through California wine country that became a runaway hit in 2005.
Given wine's increasing popularity in Japan, Fuji TV, one of Japan's biggest film producers, thought the movie would be an ideal candidate for a remake. But for its new film, tentatively also called Sideways, the company made changes to the storyline.
Rather than drinking their way through Santa Barbara wine country, the group meanders through Napa Valley, a wine region that is better-known among the Japanese. The movie's two main male characters — named Michio and Daisuke, not Miles and Jack — drive up to Napa Valley from Los Angeles. “You can’t do a road trip in California without going over the Golden Gate Bridge,” said the director of the remake, Cellin Gluck.
At first, Napa Valley vintners were not too enthusiastic about the film, given that the original's Merlot-bashing lines led to a plummet in sales of the varietal. However, the new feature doesn't knock varietals of any kind and successfully managed to shoot at local restaurants, as well as winemakers such as Frog's Leap, Beringer, and Chandon.
I'd never have guessed that the Japanese would remake a movie like Sideways, with its focus on a specialized West Coast winemaking region, but I can see how the comedy has universal appeal. Do you like the concept, or should Fox have simply dubbed the original?