Combustible Celluloid
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With: Amber Benson, Cole Williams, Jeremy Lelliott, Danielle Harris, Justin Hartley, Philipp Karner, Justin Zachary, Adam Del Rio
Written by: Russell Brown
Directed by: Russell Brown
MPAA Rating: R for sexual content, language and brief drug use
Running Time: 75
Date: 04/06/2005

Race You to the Bottom (2007)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Whine Tasting

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Travel writer Nathan (Cole Williams) leaves behind his boyfriend for a weekend excursion to Napa. He instead invites Maggie (Amber Benson, Tara on TV's "Buffy the Vampire Slayer") to be his traveling companion. Maggie also has a boyfriend, the passive Milo (Justin Zachary). They may seem like a harmless pair, but in reality, Nathan and Maggie are actually having a torrid affair. I admit I nearly gave up after an incredibly awkward, self-conscious first five minutes, but eventually writer/director Russell Brown finds his groove and sustains it for a long while. Brown clearly wants to make a zingy, snappy, dialogue-heavy film like the screwball comedies from the 1930s and 1940s, and one or two of his scenes actually have a nice rhythm. It helps that cinematographer Marco Fargnoli gets a sunny, open-air quality to the road scenes and the scenes in Napa, which deflates the writing a bit. But even though Race You to the Bottom runs only 75 minutes, it eventually runs out of steam and tries the patience. The film opens this week at San Francisco's Roxie Cinema.

Best Buy Co, Inc.