With the exception of a couple movies, when you hear the name Will Ferrell, you immediately think of his comedic works. He seems to be one of the go to actors for a laugh on screen. So when the trailer first came out for Downhill, and they are billing the movie as a comedy – you expect to have a movie that will have you laughing at his silly antics.
But when it comes to Downhill, it’s only in a comedy in the way that Shakespearean plays are called comedies. The movie follows Pete (Ferrell) and his family on a skiing vacation to the Austrian Alps where things don’t go as they expected. When the family experiences an avalanche, their relationships are put to the test when Pete takes off while his family experiences the brunt of the life threatening situation.
The avalanche isn’t even the beginning of the issues that Pete and his family are experiencing – instead it seems to be the just the top of the pile of issues. Almost a year after the loss of his father – Pete uses his grief for an excuse to act out and be distant. His wife Billie (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), makes excuses for him from the beginning and their relationship is strained. But after the avalanche, she pushes back and is at her breaking point. And that one moment is what will help define their relationship.
So where are the laughs that the movie trailer promises? The movie takes you on a slow and ambling path down the ski paths in the Alps, with menial family issues like kids not wanting to ski or participate. And while there are a few moments throughout the movie that are funny – a lot of it ends up being sad and tragic.
When the couple’s fighting reaches its peak, you feel the genuine anger from Billie and the disconnect on Pete’s side. The awkwardness in the room is palpable, and you can feel the divide between them growing. And this is where the movie starts to unravel even more than the relationship seems to be.
The movie starts to focus on the couple as individuals and how they decide to act out in the aftermath. With an drunken night at a disco to a possible affair with a ski instructor – both seem to be on the path to fully ruining their relationship completely. The divide between them and what the experience has done to their children is more sad and tragic than anything else.
Although Downhill is set in a beautiful location, that is about the only thing the movie will offer viewers. The movie seems to have won the hearts of critics at Sundance, the general audiences will check out part way through the story and it will have a limited following.
Downhill is almost scene for scene and line for line the 2014 release Force Majure leaving out the final bus scene. Why they felt they needed to recreate a movie that didn’t do well the first time we don’t understand and the audiences aren’t going to enjoy a movie no body liked the first time or want this time.
Barely escaping an avalanche during a family ski vacation in the Alps, a married couple is thrown into disarray as they are forced to reevaluate their lives and how they feel about each other. Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Will Ferrell star in this biting comedy.