The allure of a ski vacation in the European Alps will be forever wiped out by Downhill. Perhaps one should not market it as “A Different Kind of Disaster Movie” if you want viewers to go see it. Downhill examines cowardice. Will you be able to admit what you did or didn’t do? What will your loved ones think of you? Are you able to look yourself in the mirror? While those might be interesting topics in an ethics class, or in a divorce proceeding, please don’t foist this exercise on unsuspecting customers. So, as we slalom through the miasma of the Staunton marriage, let’s just say that it’s all downhill from the start. I give the film 2 Gavels and it receives a tepid 41% Rotten Tomatoes rating with a putrid 14% Audience score.
Billie and Pete Staunton are enjoying a ski vacation in the Alps with their two sons. As they are about to enjoy an outdoor lunch, an avalanche roars toward their restaurant. Abandoning his screaming family, Pete runs. Thankfully, the family is unharmed and Pete returns as if nothing happened. But, his family no longer looks at him the same way. He is no longer their protector. The ramifications are many.
Will Ferrell and Julia Louis-Dreyfus are Pete and Billie, both excellent at portraying disappointment, disbelief, and/or distrust. Dreyfus, in particular, suffers so well for the camera that it is easy to see why she has eight acting Emmys on her mantle. Zoe Chao is the only other actor of note as a friend reminding Billie she has every right to be mad at Pete.
Thursday Morning Coffee — 2/6/20 reported the director wants to make the audience uncomfortable. Mission accomplished. The above picture is the scene where they argue about desertion vs. “running for help” in front of friends and their children. Excruciating describes it rather well. My favorite critic quote is from Slate, “Downhill too often plays like a cringe comedy that’s all cringe. It’s not just uncomfortable; it’s unpleasant.” Save your money on this one, folks. All those in the know say that the original (Force Majeure) is so much better.
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