Fox’s “Sideways” disc uncorks mirth-inducing extras that actually top the merrymaking onscreen. Chief among the pleasures: Paul Giamatti and Thomas Haden Church’s highly entertaining — and often quite bawdy — commentary about their wine-soaked adventures on and off the bigscreen.
The two thesps egg each other on, riffing on the “bejugged and brainy” appeal of Virginia Madsen’s Maya and later disclosing that thesp M.C. Gainey shattered the car window “with his prodigious junk” while pursuing Giamatti’s character in the buff.
The duo freely dispenses interesting production tidbits and compliments about the camera work, fellow thesps and jazzy score. They also comment about themes running through the midlife buddy movie — “it is, in fact, a picture laden with canards, as the great Samuel Beckett would say,” Church offers — but they are at their absolute funniest alternately cheering and poking fun of each other’s appearance onscreen.
“You are the Underwood deviled ham guy of incredulity,” Church tells Giamatti, who later confides he was tipsy in a restaurant scene. “I’m like a small schoolgirl, constitutionally.”
Helmer Alexander Payne annotated the disc’s seven excised scenes to explain how even the smallest cuts can help speed up pace. Noting you can never foresee which scenes will get the ax during the editing process, he said, “this is yet another way in which I find film beautiful and mysterious — how it reveals its true nature and rhythm only in the cutting room.”
And, true to form, most of the excised scenes appear truly expendable.
In the disc’s serviceable featurette, castmates attributes their palpable chemistry to the on-set atmosphere Payne created. But the helmer tips his hat to Church and his partner in mischief. “He and Paul are both extremely funny people, and that helped their chemistry a lot,” Payne says. “In real life, their senses of humor clicked in together very well.”