Clearly this article is going to be packed with Uncorked spoilers, but just in case you need a little more convincing to watch Prentice Penny‘s feature directorial debut, the new Netflix movie focuses on the challenge of finding a balance between personal dreams and allegiance to family. Elijah (Mamoudou Athie) is passionate about wine and dreams of becoming a Master Sommelier, but his dad (Courtney B. Vance) wants him to join the family business and come to work with him at their popular Memphis barbecue joint. When Elijah gets accepted into a prestigious school that could help him ace the famously tough sommelier exam, he’s got to figure out a way to balance his schoolwork with his father’s expectations.
Hopefully that’s enough to encourage you to navigate over to Netflix and give Uncorked a watch, because the rest of this article isn’t for you until you’ve seen the film. Here’s your final spoiler warning! The rest of this article is about the ending of Uncorked.
There are a ton of movies out there where the main character has a dream, thinks that dream is near impossible to achieve, but then the hero emerges victorious. However, that’s not the case with Uncorked. Even after pouring everything he has into prepping for the sommelier exam, Elijah doesn’t pass. It’s a bold but effective choice so while chatting with Penny about his experience making the film, I opted to ask him why he chose to go that route with the ending of the movie.
“To me, it was kind of the point of the movie, right? Which is, you don’t always get what you’re trying to go after. That’s really the point is the dad kind of says to him earlier on in the movie, he is sort of wisely saying, ‘You never stick with anything. When things get hard, you give up.’ And what he’s really trying to do is grow his son into a man, right? The dad believes that that will happen by teaming up for this restaurant and becoming more stable, and that’s sort of the thing. And the son’s journey is really, ‘Hey, when things don’t go your way, how do you respond when things get really tough?’
That’s also being a man, and so I was playing with this interesting thing to me, which is like, it’s very ironic that the very way he has to become a man is by separating himself from his father and still going after what he wants, which is kind of the point, right? It’s never really about when you get it because a lot of times in life, you don’t get the thing. It’s what you do when you don’t get the thing that’s the most important part. That’s what makes you, I think, root for this character. You can put in hard work all the time, and it doesn’t necessarily mean anything. It’s really about saying more about you when you’re in the thinkings of failure than it does when you have the success. So that was just very key to me that he does not pass the test. That was just like, he can’t.”
I like a traditional achieve-your-dream happy ending as much as anyone, but in this case, I found Elijah’s failure and then his ability to forge forward to be one of the main reasons why Uncorked makes a lasting impression. Dare I say, that also makes the movie even more inspiring, too. It’s one thing to push yourself to achieve a tough goal, but it’s another to fail and then be able to pick yourself back up and give it another go.