Will Ferrell and Julia Louis-Dreyfus play a couple who after a near-death experience, now see each other in a completely different light based on their reactions. Think of the episode in ‘The Office’ where Michael Scott sprints passed all of his underlings when there was a potential fire, that’s this movie but with an exploration into a family dynamic. When it came out in Sundance, it ended up getting a mixed amount of reviews but still, I was looking forward to seeing this mainly due to the leads and how much I love their comedic work. Will Ferrell shines in his dramatic roles as well, ‘Stranger Than Fiction’ is one of his best. But in ‘Downhill’ the consistent chance of tone from being a screwball comedy vs a hard-hitting drama left me wondering who this film is targeted towards.
As far as comedies go, or dramas, (honestly it’s tough to categorize this film between the two) go this is a really beautiful looking film. I loved all of the shots of the ski resort, the personal scenes that took place in a bathroom is very visually striking. The score is good, the humor when it is intentional is really funny, and that comes in part from the main cast performances.
The performances turned in from both Louis-Dreyfus and Ferrell are strong and very good. Louis-Dreyfus has a specific scene where herself, Will Ferrel, and the small supporting cast are at a small dinner and she breaks down while telling the story of the near-death experience. She is an incredible actress and this is one of the first times I’ve seen her in a drama, and I hope it’s not the last. Will Ferrell turned in a good performance as well, showing what a dissociated father could be like and in his gut reactions, having to come to terms with his horrible instincts. The two boys in the film are not really important to the story acting-wise- but there’s really not a bad performance in this film. The standout supporting roles for me would be Miranda Otto’s character as well as the terrific Zach Woods. But the acting wasn’t the problem that made this film go ‘Downhill’.
This film has A LOT of moments that can be described as “accidental humor”, where a dramatic moment is happening and in hindsight, you can see how it was MEANT to be a dramatic moment. With ‘Downhill” a lot of those serious moments are undercut from the consistent jumping back and forth between drama and comedy. If you can’t strike a blend between your tones in storytelling a lot of the nuances get swept under the confusion. I think maybe under a more seasoned storyteller that is able to blend the tones better would have an overall improvement with this movie.
Overall, I had a okay time with this movie. If you love either of these actors definitely go and check it out. It has great performances and there are funny moments, even if the sum of its parts ends up making it kind of a mixed bag.
I’m giving ‘Downhill’ a 6/10
So my gaggle of geeks, what do YOU think?! Leave a comment down below and thanks for checking this out! See you at the next review!