Eliane Benes and Ron Burgundy slip on the ice in this boring remake.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Will Ferrell are two of the best comedy talents in the entertainment world, but in “Downhill,” they can’t seem to survive the recycled screenplay of the Swedish film “Force Majeure.” The original version was placed in a quiet and sentimental tone, while this one is more upbeat and relies too much on dialogue to save the show.
Writers/directors Nat Faxon and Jim Rash (both behind “The Descendants” and “The Way, Way Back”) and writer Jesse Armstrong (“In the Loop”) all recycle Ruben Ostlund’s story about a family whose skiing vacation gets thwarted by the cowardly patriarch (Ferrell) leaving his family when a controlled avalanche blasts them with flurries. They all manage to survive the accident, but the matriarch (Louis-Dreyfus) and their kids are infuriated with him.
The cast also features Zach Woods as Ferrell’s younger buddy who sticks by him during his interrogation, Miranda Otto as an Austrian concierge who wants to the main couple’s new friend, and Kristofer Hivju (from the original version) as an inconsiderate lift manager who informs the couple they did have warning signs about controlled avalanches.
The Alps look so beautifully photographed, that every time I gaze upon them, I felt like they’re like fresh air cooling my stress away. The ski runs, the mountains, the air-all of them look more refreshing than this polluted recycled script, which never seems to go off any jumps, and ends up trapped on the chairlift.
I’ve seen a much better American version of “Gloria” called “Gloria Bell” (note the difference in titles), which allowed the main heroine to be independent and courageous. And the fact that “Parasite” became the first international film to win the Oscar for Best Picture makes me want to push my protests of not having it remade even further.
The point is that some of the people I’ve talked to haven’t heard about “Downhill,” and they never heard of its predecessor “Force Majeure.” This mean you probably would think this is an original story, but it isn’t, considering the fact that I saw it. This one left me feeling bored and uninspired. And even the Otto character became increasingly exhausting the minute she appeared on camera. She’s fine in other movies, just not this particular role.
The performances from Louis-Dreyfus, Ferrell, and Woods are likable in their respective convictions, but even if they’re guided by the talented duo Rash and Faxon, they’re not given any risks or character developments. In fact, you can pretty much anticipate their situations and outcomes. It’s crucial that a father must protect his family from harm’s way, and “Downhill” barely convinced me of Ferrell’s guilt. It just relied on the estranged attitudes, short time frame, and would-be climax to shake things up.
This remake ends up being about (dare I say it) nothing.