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  • Writer's pictureStrictly Films

DownHill A Complete Mis-Market Dud Grade: D+

Source: IMDB

Downhill tells a story about a family vacation out in Europe. Everything was going swell with the family, until a mini avalanche invades them and other tourists during brunch. While the mother of the family Billie (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) was holding onto her children in her arms, thinking this is her final seconds on earth. The father of the family Pete (Will Ferrell) instead picks up his phone and runs away for safety for his own life. Now Billie and Pete are now in a feud, in what should've still maintained a happy time on vacation. The Cinematography was pretty boring for my taste. Sure you can acknowledge some nature shots of snow and sun sets... But honestly can watch even better shots of those from nature documentary series, so it's not that impressive. The Score of this film was quite solid, I enjoyed the one tune of women just making sounds, it was nice. The cast of this film all in all were fine, but no one really had a strong performance in this film. Will Ferrell playing Will Ferrell was eh, I guess I can say his scene in the bar maybe the only time where I thought he was worth recognizing, but other than that it's a pretty boring performance by him. The character Pete is written just fine, I think what holds it back is the stale dialogue, but I understand this character and why he's in the wrong in this little feud he's having with his wife Billie. Billie played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus was honestly the best performance of this entire film, she had a solid performance. I also thought the character Billie is the best character in the entire film, despite the weak dialogue she is the one character I actually wanted to watch more of due to the fact she kept me interested in the plot. The way she's frustrated at Pete and possibly given into temptations during the feud made the film less unbearable than it already was... Yay Billie. So I had no idea Downhill was based off an critically acclaimed foreign film, which now makes me understand the frustrations critics and even movie goers are having with this film. Sometimes adapting to an American version is very risky, as sometimes it doesn't hold up to the original. I mean not many The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo's walking in the door, very rare. Also worth noting: I actually wanted to watch this film, the trailer looked funny and I liked the concept, in fact I remember the video of that real life avalanche. For positives I think the morale theme of the film is handled just fine. Regarding what is valuable in your life and action speaks louder than words was done just fine, like I got the whole point of the film. A few chuckles here and there, so it wasn't completely unfunny for the most part. What troubles me about DownHill is the fact the film makers behind this film, also made The Way Way Back which happens to be a great film. It troubles me because I don't know how possible it was, for talented writers/directors make not only a disappointing film, but also make one that is lifeless at times. I found the dialogue to be quite atrocious at times, like I was falling asleep because it's not doing anything for me. Majority of the conversations taken place in this film is dreadfully boring, like it's just scenes of characters talking about basically nothing as I'm sitting here thinking at times, "Why am I watching this?!" I mean The Way Way Back had a lot of energy put into the script and dialogue that made you think because it pops right at you. The dialogue reminds me of being over my family's house as they discuss random memories for four hours dating back in the 60's... Like I don't care about anything there saying because it's so boring. Then you have such strange unnecessary characters as well. The woman whom runs the hotel was obnoxious and over the top, it was such a weird comedic character that sure provided one chuckle, but other than that she should've just been a normal character. Like I think her and Billie on the ski lift maybe the one and only scene, where I thought this character was properly utilized. She's telling Billie she enjoys self satisfaction for herself because it makes her happy, as it makes Billie confused for her own because self satisfaction doesn't come too often for her own life. Like that's a good scene, why couldn't you just make the character normal and not be a stupid comedic relief?! Then you have Pete's best friend and honestly he was a complete dud, who really didn't provide much for Pete. I think if Pete's buddy was single, then it would make much sense for Pete feeling marrying Billie was a mistake. But the guy is happily in a relationship, talking business and how it's cool being rich and happy with his girl... I don't care about this character at all. The story itself is not bad, but I will say it could've much much better and more engaging. Now the comedy material... Two things to discuss. The marketing for this film is COMPLETELY MIS-MARKET. The marketing has people thinking this is going to be a fun comedy, which is completely untrue. Sure it has moments of comedy, but it's mostly a drama about a feud between a married couple and a disaster that just happened to them. So people hating on this film for being unfunny is not the film makers fault and not the actors fault... It's whomever market this film is the one to blame. The comedy material in general isn't bad, like I said earlier I've chuckled a few times, it's just this was never suppose to be a comedy so it would make much sense why I wasn't laughing much. I'm sure the original film is better than this, but given the fact we do have proven film makers/writers behind this and a cast that can work with this material, is no excuse in the final product we have received. Overall, DownHill was a disappointment. I don't recommend this film, just watch the original film Force Majeure which I'll happily join them as well. -Mitch Smietana

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