Northern California wine country proves disappointingly infertile ground for sharp satire.

Northern California wine country proves disappointingly infertile ground for sharp satire in “Corked,” a mockumentary that could have benefited from a longer period of creative fermentation. Neither merciless enough to skewer its alternately clueless and pretentious characters nor impassioned enough about wine to become a funny valentine to its subject, this low-budget laffer from writer-directors Ross Clenenden and Paul Hawley (scion of Sonoma County’s Hawley Winery) may attract a few connoisseurs but looks unlikely to break out. Pic opens June 5 for a limited run at Los Angeles’ Downtown Independent Theater.

Pic tracks a group of rival wineries and the assorted fools and eccentrics who run them, including smarmy, image-conscious Donald Smythe (Clenenden, very good), tireless multitasker Gerry Hannon (Jeffrey Weissman) and two bumbling marketing entrepreneurs (Rob Reinis, Ben Tolpin) whose patter wears thin quickly. A haughty wine critic (Marte Mejstrik), weirdly bearing the name of former Time Warner chairman-CEO Richard Parsons, materializes late in the game; one expects he might describe “Corked” as mildly quaffable at best. Lensing by Miguel Medina (who also edited) shows off sun-drenched vineyards to nice, scenic effect; other tech contributions are well done.


  • Production: A TriCoast Worldwide and 28 Entertainment presentation of a Brian A. Hoffman production. (International sales: TriCoast Worldwide, Santa Monica, Calif.) Produced by Brian A. Hoffman. Executive producer, Jay Hoffman. Co-producer, Richard Crouch. Co-executive producers, Strathford Hamilton, Marcy Levitas Hamilton, Ami Artzi. Directed, written by Ross Clenenden, Paul Hawley.
  • Crew: Camera (color), Miguel Medina; editor, Medina; music, Erin Davis, Dave Foley, Errol Reifman; music supervisors, Kevin Rittner, Brian A. Hoffman; production designers, Sara Woo, Hawley; costume designer, Mogul Designs. Reviewed on DVD, Los Angeles, June 2, 2009. (In Cannes Film Festival -- market.) Running time: 90 MIN.
  • With: <b>With:</b> Jeffrey Weissman, Ross Clendenen, Rob Reinis, Sara Woo, Ben Tolpin, Todd Norris, Martina Finch, Tim Shippey, Diane Merlino, Steve Lucanic, Brian A. Hoffman, Devin Westberg, Marte Mejstrik.
  • Music By: