DOWNHILL (2020)

DOWNHILL (2020) movie poster
A family's ski vacation in the Alps splits them apart. When a controlled avalanche hits the lodge patio, husband Pete (Will Ferrell) bolts - leaving wife Billie (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) and their two sons (Julian Grey & Ammon Jacob Ford) to fend for themselves. The remainder of the trip is spent coming to terms with what happened and taking a hard look at their lives.

What could have been a powerful and emotional family drama quickly disintegrates. This American remake of director/writer Ruben Östlund's (listed as an executive producer on this misstep) 2014 Swedish drama "Force Majeure" gets
lost in translation. Nat Faxon and Jim Rash are responsible for this new version, handling the directing and writing chores - with screenplay help from Jesse Armstrong (TV's "Succession"). Faxon and Rash gave us 2013's delightful classic "The Way Way Back" and should have done better here. This dreary endeavor is over 30 minutes shorter than the original, but it feels longer. The thin plot gets interrupted by too many extended shots of outdoor scenery. Dramatic scenes feel stretched and attempts at comedy mirror bad SNL skits. Will Ferrell is a fine actor whose role here is mainly reactive with little else to do. Julia Louis-Dreyfus, also one of the producers, delivers a meatier performance - especially during a lengthy reveal of the family's dirty laundry when Pete's friend Zach (Zach Woods) and his companion Rosie (Zoe Chao) visit. Louis-Dreyfus falters a bit in an awkwardly romantic moment with a ski instructor (Giulio Berruti). Miranda Otto appears as the sexy and aggressive hotel employee Charlotte - a temptation for Pete. A trivia note: Kristofer Hivju, who played the husband's friend in "Force Majeure", is a resort supervisor in this redo. If this story interests you, the original is much better. "Downhill" depressingly spirals in the title's direction. (1.5/5 CAMS)

Rated R (for language and some sexual material)
Running Time: 86 minutes


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