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Review: Netflix dramedy ‘Uncorked’ goes down like a smooth wine in troubled times

Mamoudou Athie and Courtney B. Vance in a scene from “Uncorked.”
Mamoudou Athie and Courtney B. Vance in a scene from “Uncorked.”
(Nina Robinson / Netflix)

Barbecue meets Barolo courtesy of “Uncorked,” a nicely nuanced feature debut by “Insecure” showrunner Prentice Penny about a young wine aficionado whose career goals don’t involve inheriting his family’s busy Memphis rib joint.

Despite the expectations of his hard-working parents (Courtney B. Vance and Niecy Nash) that he’ll one day take over the multi-generational family business, earnest Elijah (a sensitive, soulful Mamoudou Athie) opts to follow his passion by enrolling in the Master Sommelier program, which culminates in a notoriously grueling exam.

While the plan obviously doesn’t go down well with his dad (for whom the word “sommelier” is a place in Africa known for email scams), Elijah, through the love and support of his mom and his new girlfriend, Tanya (Sasha Compere), nevertheless forges ahead, with father and son ultimately managing to find common ground somewhere between pulled pork and a pulled cork.

The conflict may cover some familiar domestic terroir, but writer-director Penny, himself the child of a Los Angeles furniture store owner expected to follow suit, has crafted a thoroughly workable and well-informed vehicle, providing a nurturing atmosphere for the unhurried dramatic developments and uniformly gracious performances.

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Attractively shot by Elliot Davis, with an excursion to Paris allowing for the inclusion of some silky French hip-hop, the production, an official selection of this year’s preempted SXSW Film Festival, serves as a spiritually soothing balm for these uncertain times.

‘Uncorked’
Not rated

Running Time: 1 hour, 44 minutes

Playing: Available on Netflix March 27


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