The obvious question is “Why?”
Why remake a film that was its own slice of perfection in the first place? The remake in question is Downhill, the new Will Ferrell/Julia Louis-Dreyfus flick that’s practically a carbon copy of Ruben Östlund’s 2014 Swedish dark comedy, Force Majeure, in which a married couple faces an existential crisis while on a skiing holiday in the Alps. While “money” is certainly a reason to remake anything, I’d be very surprised if the producers of Downhill recoup whatever they put into it, for while Ferrell and Dreyfus are certainly an enticing comic draw, this movie is a FUCKING BUMMER, gang.
Ferrell is the grieving dad, while Dreyfus is the overworked mom in this scenario, and while lunching on a ski resort’s patio, an avalanche suddenly comes crashing toward them. Mom pulls the kids close, awaiting certain death, while dad runs for his life—though he did remember to grab his phone. The avalanche stops short of burying them alive, however the couple’s previously cool relationship now turns downright icy, forcing both to process their feelings and decide whether or not this marriage is worth saving.
Dreyfus is, as expected, wonderful in the role, expressing a multitude of emotions from fear to abject annoyance in her eyes, while Ferrell delivers a solid, low key performance. But their infrequent comic bits are overwhelmed by the negativity of the film’s tone, and not even Miranda Otto’s (Chilling Tales of Sabrina) occasional bursts of funny/horny energy can rescue Downhill from its downward slide to Bummer Town.
In contrast, Force Majeure is played as a drama first, comedy second—which may be why it’s so much more enjoyable. And maybe Downhill directors Nat Faxon and Jim Rash wanted to share their enjoyment of Force Majeure with the world. They’re right, it’s a great film. But in the case of Downhill, imitation is not the sincerest form of flattery.
Opens in theaters today, Friday February 14… Valentine’s Day… which is really not a good idea.