Updated: Feb 26, 2020
I like Will Farrell. I like Julia Louis-Dreyfus. But I did not like the movie Downhill.
I am a big fan of the comedic talents of both Farrell and Louis-Dreyfus. They are arguably among the best comedy talent on the planet with a string of successes. Downhill isn’t one of them.
To cut to the chase, this felt like one of those movies that you might see at a film festival. Enjoyable but not memorable. A low-budget attempt to be creative and clever and showcase the blossoming talent of an undiscovered writer or director.
What we have here is an adaptation of a foreign film that probably did run in film festival venues only to catch the attention of producers who saw the opportunity to adapt it and turn it into a mainstream Hollywood film. The strategy of adapting a successful foreign film and making an Americanized version can certainly work when you throw enough talent into the mix in front of the camera and behind it. Having bankable stars definitely helps your chances of making it work.
In the case of Downhill, you certainly have the bankable stars part of the equation. What’s lacking here is a script that is worthy of their stature and talent. In Downhill, the casting of Farrell and Louis-Dreyfus would seem to all but guarantee some great chemistry and comedy sparks. Sadly, it just doesn’t happen.
The movie tries so hard to be a parable about relationships and how catastrophic and near-catastrophic events in our lives can have consequences and test our connections with the people we love. But it seems to struggle to make its point.
Yes, there are a few funny moments sprinkled into many awkward and painful moments in this tale of a couple and their two sons on a ski vacation that is meant to bring everyone together following the death of the husband’s father. We watch as the promise of a spiritually- rejuvenating getaway degenerates into a succession of dull real-live moments like the loss of a ski glove that results in a missed opportunity to take a thrilling $2000 helicopter ride to the summit.
It’s all about disappointment of one form or another, and that can be said of the movie. If you’re looking for a laugh-a-minute comedy that the previews seem to promise, this isn’t it. Prepare yourself for a ski getaway gone wrong that really isn’t that funny in the end. In truth, it’s a little sad.
I was expecting more from Nat Faxon and Jim Rush who collaborated so successfully when they co-wrote and co-directed The Way Way Back, back in 2013. That one worked, This one didn’t.