Friday, February 21, 2020

Movie Review: “Downhill”

By Matt Pascarella

Rated R
Run time: 1 hour 26 minutes

A family takes a vacation where the whole purpose was to have fun and spend time together, when a reaction to an avalanche derails the tone of the vacation. From there, events only go from bad to worse.

A remake of the Swedish film “Force Majeure,” a family travels to Austria for a ski vacation. They’re about to sit down to have lunch when they hear a giant boom and see an avalanche coming towards them. As it gets closer, it becomes apparent, this avalanche is not slowing down and covers the area where the family, and other patrons are sitting. Billie (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) ducks down as she pulls her children close to her for protection. Pete (Will Ferrell) grabs his phone and leaves the table.
As it turns out, everyone is fine, but the rest of the trip is ‘Downhill’ from there.

The family is on edge after, everyone is very quiet. Billie is upset with Pete. That night, Billie and Peter have dinner with a pushy hotel guest, Charlotte, (Miranda Otto) and her husband. The tension during this scene is kind of uncomfortable to watch as it’s obvious Billie doesn’t want to be there and is still upset about how Pete reacted, and is still reacting to the avalanche, as he describes the avalanche in a nonchalant way.

Things spiral from there on. The family is supposed to go heli-skiing; down, off-trail skiing reached by helicopter, and they end up not going because they all get in a big argument and miss the helicopter.

Pete invites a coworker of his who happens to be visiting the same area; Zach (Zach Woods) and girlfriend Rosie (Zoe Chao) during their visit. Billie and Pete get in a big fight as Zach and Rosie awkwardly observe. During this fight, Billie accuses Pete of abandoning his family during the avalanche and Pete denies it. The next day, Billie decides to take a day by herself. She inadvertently meets up with Charlotte where they have a discussion about happiness. Billie skis with a ski instructor and ends up kissing him. Meanwhile, Pete and the boys are having a sub-par time at a local ski park.

Billie and Pete spend more days apart. Billie runs into Rosie where they have a discussion about the fight to which she and Zach had ringside seats. Pete and Zach spend the day skiing and then go to a club.

The family meets back for dinner where the atmosphere does not improve. Afterwards, Pete tells Billie she was right about her account of the avalanche, he did run away. Billie says: “No one is asking you to stop an avalanche, I’m just asking you to survive one with us.”

How will this vacation end? Will Pete and Billie reconcile? Or is their relationship in for its own avalanche?

I thought this was a solid movie. I found it touching, sad, funny and at times relatable all in one. Despite the sometimes hard to watch moments, this is overall a fun movie; I’d recommend seeing it in the theater. Two skis, with or without poles, up.

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