The age of remakes and rebranding continues to reign supreme in the modern Hollywood days, and this weekend we have several movies falling into this category. Today my first review is on a movie that looks to hold some semi-promise upon viewing of the trailer, as a potential comedy or drama with an interesting cast. Based on the film Force Majeure, today’s reskin attempts to add a Western twist to the mixing the culture of European films with the energy of American cinema. Will it work? That’s where I come in to give my thoughts as I review:
Movie: Downhill (2020)
- Beautiful Setting
- Orchestra Music
- Deep Morals and Meaning
- Occasionally Funny
- The Acting Is A Touch Overdone
- The Kids Involvement In the Film
- Focus On the Awkward
- The Banter That Is Not Fun
- Feels Both Lows and Truncated
- Attempts to insert Culture With Art
- Could Not Pick Drama Vs. Comedy
I guess it’s not a good thing when the setting is one of the highlights of the film. Well Downhill accomplishes capturing the European mountain setting in all its splendor and lights the fire to want to go participate in the winter wonderland of the Alps. All the snow, culture, and promises of a good vacation are very appealing in this movie and made for a wonderful landscape to play this remake in. When the orchestra music cues, the ambience only grows and helps immerse you into the world a little more, helping again expand into the cultural territory that the film is trying to capture in this repaint. Then comes the actual story, one thing about European films is their focus on strong morals told in artistic ways, and Downhill manages to do this decently from my perspective. The art of loving a family, but trying to love yourself is something I think many people this day and age don’t realize is important to balance and the film tries to show that balance in a rather odd manner. It’s not perfect, but there are several moments of dialogue that are well written or at least adapted, that I think can be used in schools and youth groups to educate. Finally, this does have two comedians in it, and there are some funny moments in here that have a fine timing to relieve the more somber tone of the film, so points for trying to balance the American comedy style into the mix.
Yet the film’s likes fall off from those points and begins to tumble into the tundra of incomplete or odd for me in terms of this movie’s presentation. The acting, a staple in a movie like this, is not quite fitting for me on most levels. Ferrell himself seems to struggle with being serious and in this position, grabbing any rope he can to come off suffering and filled with drama. Much of his acting with suffering involved looking hungover, and I felt the struggle was only presented a few times well. Dreyfus succeeds better, but her character’s direction for this film was a little more complaining and whining, rather than balanced suffering. I enjoyed her scenes more, but even her performance did not rope me into the film. When the kids come into play, again they are annoying characters who seem to portray a particular generational stigmatism to the film, but do little to actually contribute to the story. As such, the tools they became were almost not needed and I can’t say I enjoyed their inclusion in the film, not due to the acting but just the character development.
Instead the film seems to focus on the awkward atmosphere of the topic of divorce, especially in a unique circumstance involving an avalanche. Unlike Marriage Story, this film seems to dive deep into how a couple can turn a conversation into a war, and make life difficult for all who get roped in. Comedic moments with friends getting pulled in do little to alleviate the monotonous banter that fills this movie, with the two lead actors doing nothing but having these either prolonged shouting matches with the same dialogue, or short quips cutting each other off. Most of this was not fun for me and thus having to watch the sadness that follows these fights, left me fighting sleep, and a cold. It almost feels that this movie ran out of time when I got to the end of the (mercifully) short run time, where they were trying to find a balance between artistic presentation and entertainment. I appreciate trying to adapt the European presentation, but with the cast assembled and the trailers presentation, it seems this reskin should have focused more on the comedy given how many people walked out of the theater during my presentation. However, the truncated character development moments, alongside a rather quick finale, let me feeling robbed of a true spectacle. In addition, the inability to pick a lane of comedy vs. drama did not help as well, for many times the movie flipped its approach like a car sidewinding through morning traffic. These jerky, quick transitions messed up the atmosphere of the movie and by the time they stopped making this transition, it was time to wrap things up.
This reskin was not the best face lift Hollywood has given in my opinion. Though cinematography has revealed a wonderful setting and the artistic approach sells the lessons at hand, the film itself is rather boring. This is primarily due to the presentation having difficulty choosing a lane to present the film, with artistic display vs American entertainment battling it out for first. Ferrell and Louis-Dreyfus can’t seem to find the chemistry for an award-winning performance and the other characters do little to enhance the experience outside of awkward banter and some forced comedy. It goes to show that a movie like this can keep an original skin and be appreciated, like we saw in the Academy Awards, but for this reviewer, the remake is not worth the trip to the theater. I would suggest this is at best a free stream or watching on cable to get your best investment.
My scores are:
Movie Overall: 3.0