Review: Downhill (2020)

Directors: Nat Faxon, Jim Rash
Screenwriters: Jesse Armstrong, Nat Faxon, Jim Rash
Starring: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Will Ferrell, Miranda Otto, Zach Woods, Zoe Chao
Genres: Comedy, Drama
MPAA Rating: Rated R for language and some sexual material
Release Date: 2/14/20 (Limited Theatrical)
Where to Watch: Rent/buy — Amazon Prime, Vudu, etc.
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 38%

I watched Downhill on Valentine’s Day, and I can imagine that it’s not exactly the best date movie; but fortunately, I went with my mom. Downhill is the American remake of the acclaimed Swedish film Force Majeure. And, as I have not seen the original, I have nothing against which to compare Downhill.

Despite the fairly negative reviews, which claim that this film isn’t as impactful and worth watching as is the original (which is usually the case), Downhill was fairly enjoyable, if uneven. Though, after viewing the trailer and seeing two comedic legends — Will Ferrell and Julia Louis-Dreyfus (who miraculously had never met before making this movie) — one would rightfully assume that this is a full-on comedy.

The film certainly has some hilarious moments, especially in the form of a scene-stealing Miranda Otto as the sexually voracious Austrian hotel manager (seriously, who knew she was this funny?). And Ferrell is at his best when allowed to let loose with his stellar physical comedy, made famous on SNL. And, in her first post-Veep role, Dreyfus shines. In case you forgot, she excels in more dramatic moments and scenes, just as she does in comedic ones.

Ferrell does his best to match Louis-Dreyfus’ intensity, but sometimes his expressions are unreadable, almost blank stare-like. He and Dreyfus have fairly solid chemistry, making me wish they’d teamed up sooner.

┬áThe script needed to be better at finding a balance between the humor and drama; there’s nothing wrong with combining those elements (after all, the Oscar-winning Parasite did it best), but it needs to be done so meticulously and believably. If Downhill had been more successful at obtaining this balance, then perhaps some audience members [not myself or my mom] would not have laughed during the seemingly more dramatic moments — most likely out of habit or because they felt they were supposed to laugh.

B-

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