Party Themes with the Movie "Sideways"

by Toby Welch

"Sideways" is a 2004 dramatic comedy film about two 40-something men who go on a seven-day road trip to the California wine country. While there, they meet two women and romantic affairs quickly flare up before they return home to San Diego. The movie, based on an adaptation of Rex Pickett's novel by the same name, lends itself to as a theme to numerous party types.

Wine Tasting

As a great deal of "Sideways" takes place in California wine country, a wine-tasting party is the most obvious social gathering that matches the theme. The two men find the new women in their lives in Santa Barbara County wine country, so wines from that region are fitting. If you would like to uncork a specific bottle from the movie at your party, Miles, one of the men on the road trip, drinks a bottle of 1961 Chateau Cheval Blanc out of a foam cup from a fast-food restaurant. A wine spittoon makes an appearance in the movie; it makes a handy accessory for a wine-themed party.

California "Bon Voyage" Party

As the entire movie takes place in California, the film makes an appropriate theme as a going-away party for friends moving to or making an extended visit to the southern part of the state. The flick begins in San Diego, and the characters travel through the Santa Barbara wine country, including the Santa Ynez Valley. The two main characters end up back in San Diego after their road trip. The "Bon Voyage" party can feature wines from the region and a setting reminiscent of a southern California winery or vineyard.

Bachelor Party

A bachelor party is perfect for a "Sideways" theme. Jack, one of the two main characters in the film, gets married after he returns from his road trip. The road trip serves as a pseudo-bachelor party and lead-up to his wedding.

"Get Over Her/Him" Party

In "Sideways," Miles is almost obsessed with getting his ex-wife back. He still yearns for her and forces himself to get over her when he sees her married to another man and pregnant with his child. His heart aches for his past love through much of the movie. If several people in your social circle have recently suffered painful split-ups, throwing a "Sideways" party based on getting over your past loves could help you all lick your wounds and move on. Invite your friends over for wine, commiseration and sharing of tips on who else may be seeking a new partner.

"Rejection Letter" Party

At the beginning of the movie, Miles is an unpublished writer striving to get his novel accepted. Halfway through the movie, he hears from his agent, who has received yet another rejection, and declares it is not worth it to keep trying to find a publisher. The turmoil a writer goes through or the quest to become published can serve as a "Sideways" party theme for a writing group. Enjoy some bottles of vino while sharing rejection stories, offering helpful manuscript critiques and shoring up each other's determination to keep trying.


  • "Leonard Maltin's 2004 Movie and Video Guide": Leonard Maltin: 2003
  • "2004 Movie Guide": Zagat Survey: 2003

Photo Credits

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