Review: 'Race You to the Bottom' a trip to whine country

In “Race You to the Bottom,” two zippy twentysomethings junket through wine country, where questions of commitment, fidelity, and overall character cause the initially companionable pair to irk and alienate each other. Unfortunately, they affect the viewer likewise as their plausible but tedious bisexual dramedy unfolds.

Generally gay travel writer Nathan (Cole Williams) and straight career-unsure Maggie (Amber Benson) have been lovers for months, unbeknownst to their respective boyfriends (Jeremy Lelliott, Justin Zachary). Initially, the two, who share a smart-alecky banter, view their trip from Los Angeles to Napa Valley as a romantic getaway. But as deep feelings and frustrations emerge, their friendship and love affair crumble.

Maggie loves Nathan but questions whether his “70/30” homosexuality and across-the-board fear of responsibility can result in a meaningful future. Nathan flirts with and seduces men; his conquests include Maggie’s straight-arrow ex-boyfriend (Justin Hartley) in a visit with the latter and his wife (Danielle Harris). At other points, Nathan self-loathingly makes efforts to appear heterosexual by presenting Maggie as his wife or date. She’s a “prop,” he tells her, in one of many demonstrations of selfishness that divide the couple.

While this is no “Sideways” or “Autumn Tale” as talky encounters amid the vines go, it’s one of those indies you initially root for. The ideas furnished by writer-director Russell Brown, making his feature debut, contain credibility and potential as Brown explores aspects of contemporary relationships.

But for all the bumps and tempests, the film delivers a flat road and a dreary journey while asking us to care about a jerk and a woman who becomes a pill in his company. Brown doesn’t supply enough fizz, profundity or appeal to enable the movie to succeed as a romantic comedy, an exploration of love or a road flick. The effectiveness of a story about a disintegrating relationship hinges on our ability to believe that something precious is at stake; we simply don’t.

Race You to the Bottom **

Starring Amber Benson, Cole Williams, Justin Zachary, Jeremy Lelliott

Written, directed by Russell Brown

Rated R

Running time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

artsentertainmentOther Arts

Just Posted

Salesforce Tower and several other buildings in downtown San Francisco can be seen through the fog; climate scientists report that The City’s beloved mascot may be on the decline. (Courtesy Engel Ching)
Is San Francisco losing its fog? Scientists fear the worst

This isn’t just an identity crisis for San Franciscans. It’s an ecological problem

The Bay Area is vying to be one of 16 communities,<ins> spread across the U.S., Canada and Mexico,</ins> to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup soccer championships. Games would be played at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara. (Courtesy Bay Area Host Committee, World Cup 2026)
Bay Area launches bid to host World Cup games in 2026

FIFA officials pay San Francisco a visit as they tour prospective venues

San Francisco City Administrator Carmen Chu, who took office in February, is in the process of restructuring the sprawling department. (Sebastian Miño-Bucheli/Special to The Examiner)
Report knocks city administrator for inefficiency, lack of transparency

‘A culture that allows corruption to take place’

Outside Lands boasts high-quality food and drink from dozens of purveyors, and many are local.<ins> (Courtesy Outside Lands)</ins>
Outside Lands is for food lovers

85 food vendors, 40 wineries, 30 breweries make the festival nourishing to gluttonous

Most Read