Showing on Netflix.
Prentice Penny writes and directs the story of Elijah (Mamoudou Athie) a young man from a black neighbourhood in Memphis who rather than following his father and grandfather into the family barbecue restaurant business, dreams of becoming a master sommelier.
What we have is a setup for a pretty standard story of boy from the wrong side of the tracks pursues an against the odds dream, with a father who doesn’t believe in him, financial struggles and a family tragedy that makes him question his choices.
But what I really liked about Uncorked was how it took that idea and played with the format. Now to me, a master sommelier seems like a very white middle class pursuit, however by placing it in a black neighbourhood provides a fun twist, the film though never makes it about race or class, but just uses that to play with stereotypes, Elijah’s friend JT (Bernard David Jones) is a great example as a young “wide boy” DJ who is equally concerned by ensuring he has drinks on coasters and his teak table as he is his music.
Uncorked is not particularly challenging and is a gentle piece of storytelling, but its heart is in the right place and it is filled with subtle humour especially from Elijah’s father Louis (Courtney B. Vance). The cast are solid throughout all offering likeable characters whose company I enjoyed.
It feels a little long and drags a bit in the final act, but it was smart enough and funny enough for me to forgive that and took full advantage of the decision to take a well trodden story and twist it just a little.
I’d suggest you get yourself a glass, pop the cork and enjoy a gentle and enjoyable story.