Wine, women and loads of laughs: Amy Poehler on her latest film

Wine, women and loads of laughs: Amy Poehler on her latest film
Amy Poehler and Maya Rudolph in Wine Country on Netflix.

When you discover Amy Poehler has made a comedy for Netflix, you can safely bet one thing — it’s going to have you laughing out loud.

The Massachusetts-born star — best known for NBC sitcom Parks And Recreation — kick-started her career working on variety show Saturday Night Live, and it’s there that she met many of the cast-mates she assembled for Wine Country.

Alongside Poehler, Rachel Dratch, Ana Gasteyer, Maya Rudolph, Paula Pell and Emily Spivey portray a group of longtime friends who, after meeting up in California’s Napa Valley for a birthday getaway, end up having a very messy weekend.

It’s inspired by a trip the actresses — plus Tina Fey, who also stars in the film, and co-writer Liz Cackowski (Spivey also penned the script) — took to the wine country in real life.

“I mean, working with friends who are this talented is kind of the dream,” gushes 47-year-old Poehler, who has two sons with her ex- husband, actor Will Arnett.

“From a director’s standpoint, you’re working with such professionals who can really come and deliver. You don’t have to tell them how to be funny, or how to have chemistry. And those are two huge things that can make or break a comedy.

“I’ve done enough of these films where, if you don’t have a connection with your fellow actor, it doesn’t matter how funny you both are. You can be super funny without figuring out how to work together.”

For the women in the film, the boozy weekend — planned by Poehler’s character Abby to mark the 50th birthday of Rebecca (Dratch) — is an opportunity for chilling out and reconnecting with friends. What could possibly go wrong?

“It’s a comedy about women who know each other well, who dive into the deep end very often with each other emotionally, who are all going through things separately, and discover they’re not really connecting in the way they used to,” notes Poehler.

It’s certainly a film that women will want to watch with their friends. As for whether men will feel the same, she quips:

I’m OK if men don’t feel that way or don’t want to watch it. That’s OK. Not everything has to be for everyone.

Moving on to the topic of Hollywood, and whether older women in the industry are treated differently from men, the actress responds with a resounding “yes”.

“We live in a patriarchal society where age is shamed and, especially in America, we’re obsessed with youth and the beginnings of things because we’re a very juvenile country,” she says.

“And there’s a lot of wisdom that’s applied to men and their ageing and it’s not applied to women. There’s a lot of discarding of women after a certain age because of societal pressures.

“All that stuff is very systemic but slowly changing as more women represent different ages and more women of colour represent their story. So, it’s slowly changing but there’s a way to go.”

What steps does she think need to be taken to help speed it up?

“Here’s a simple fix: If you’re a director, a male director or a male actor, and you have a spouse in your movie, make them the same age as you. That’s my challenge to them. If you’re 50 have your wife be 50, see how that feels.”

Wine Country is now available on Netflix

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