Starring Will Ferrell and Julia Louis-Dreyfus
Written by Jesse Armstrong, Nat Faxon, Jim Rash, Directed by Nat Faxon and Jim Rash
Going into Downhill I was in a place I seldom get to when it comes to a film like this. That predicament is that I have not had the pleasure of seeing Force Majeure, the original film from 2014 that Downhill was inspired by. Often when I have seen a film that is being remade in the states it is more often than not a letdown, as it just doesn’t capture the original film’s feel. Movies can be such a lighting in the bottle event and just because it struck once doesn’t mean it will again. So with that, my hope was that the fire that started with the original movie would burn bright for me with this version, or would it just die out like so many before?
Pete (Will Ferrell) lost his father recently and to help with his grieving, he and his family take a ski trip. He is joined by his wife Billie (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) and his two sons, and while it starts off good, it doesn’t take long for it to go downhill. That moment it starts the decent is when while enjoying lunch, a controlled avalanche comes barring down and Pete and his family and when faced with what looks like death, Pete grabs his phone and runs away. If you noticed there I just said he grabbed his phone and what he didn’t grab was his family, who he left to be buried alive. As you would guess, this was not something that set well with his family as both his wife and children looked at him a little different afterwards. Things though don’t boil over right away as Pete tries to defend himself with the difficulty of running in ski boots and that he was going for help, excuses not really being believed by anyone. This makes for a very awkward trip as Pete first ignores and then tries to become the man he was in his family’s’ eyes before they almost got swallowed by nature.
I have to say that having no expectations was kind of nice and while I didn’t know really anything about Force Majeure, I did hear it was very good. The thing I learned about Downhill pretty quickly is that is not and that maybe it should have stayed off the black diamonds and stuck to the kiddie slopes. I mean sure Ferrell and Louis-Dreyfus make it somewhat entertaining, mostly because of the comedic skills they’ve honed over the years. Unfortunately it is not enough to save the film from being below average. From just watching the original’s trailer you can feel the awkwardness that film had, something that Downhill never achieves even at its best moments. There is though the runtime of eighty-seven minutes which makes it a lot less painful if this thing had gone anything over ninety minutes. Look most American retellings of great foreign films don’t work out so it already had that hill to get over. Some things are better left alone and in trying to tame this mountain again, this is one they should have sat out.