Downhill

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Downhill Movie Poster Image
Misguided, sour "comedy" about cowardice isn't very funny.
  • R
  • 2020
  • 86 minutes

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 7 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 2 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Raises questions along lines of "what would I have done in that situation?" and about nature of cowardice. Why do we judge so-called "cowards" so harshly, when fear is a part of all of us? Also blurs these themes with its odd character development and sour attempts at humor.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Not too much in the way of admirable behavior, but even though she's controlling and makes mistakes (like kissing a man other than her husband), Billie clearly cares for her kids and her relationship and puts her family first. She's also self-aware of her own needs, despite moments of anger and yelling.

Violence

Fierce, frequent arguing. A character wipes out while skiing and hits head hard. Sudden "boom" sounds; controlled avalanches. Drunk character tries to start a fight in a club.

Sex

A married woman kisses another man; afterward, she goes into a bathroom stall and tries to masturbate. The man massages her legs, moving closer and closer to her crotch area. A man sneaks into a bathroom where his wife is showering (he intends to get in with her). Strong sex talk/innuendo.

Language

Infrequent language includes uses of "f--k," "bulls--t," "p---y," "jackass," "d--k," "nuts," "stupid," and more.

Consumerism

Commercial ski gear shown throughout (POC, Quantum, Salomon, etc.), with logos visible. Teens and pre-teens prominently wear Beats by Dre headphones.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Main character gets extremely drunk in a bar. Character mentions taking "shrooms." Social drinking, drinks with dinner, etc.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Downhill, a remake of the Swedish film Force Majeure, explores an act of cowardice. Expect a fair bit of strong language, with uses of "f--k," "bulls--t," "p---y," and more, as well as a lot of sex talk/innuendo. A man sneaks into the bathroom, voicing his intention to shower with his wife. A married woman receives a massage from a ski instructor; he works his hands up her legs, and she kisses him. She then tries to masturbate in a public restroom. There's frequent arguing, scary "boom" sounds and an avalanche, and a man tries to start a fight in a club. A character gets extremely drunk, someone mentions taking "shrooms," and there's social drinking throughout. It stars Will Ferrell and Julia Louis-Dreyfus but isn't really a comedy; in fact, it can't seem to quite figure out what it's trying to say or how to say it.

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User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bymjconniffgrammy May 28, 2020

A waste of talent

A couple with two children (why the children are even involved in this mess is beyond me) at an adult-only ski resort become upset after an avalanche. Do not bo... Continue reading
Adult Written byYyoogg February 26, 2020

Noooo

Do NOT waste your time. I will never see a movie with these people in it. Can’t believe they would make anything so bad and depressing.
Teen, 14 years old Written byBenslayer12 April 11, 2020

Dont waste your time

Worst movie ever.
Great scenery but the movie didnt have a timeline.
Teen, 13 years old Written byLandoje February 17, 2020

Terrible

This movie depicts a family on a vacation and thenAbandons the family in a avalanche movie was very slow and boring do not waste your money on it.

What's the story?

In DOWNHILL, married couple Pete (Will Ferrell) and Billie (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) have taken their two boys on a skiing vacation in the Alps. Pete is still getting over his father's death, and he sees Billie's nagging and controlling behavior as a deterrent to living his life to the fullest. At lunch one day, an avalanche tumbles down the mountain onto the restaurant deck where the family is seated. In the face of what they believe to be certain doom, Billie cradles her children, while Pete grabs his phone and runs away, leaving his family behind. Later, the couple finds it difficult to talk about the incident, until Pete invites a work friend, Zach (Zach Woods), who was also traveling nearby, to dinner. After an explosive confrontation, Pete and Billie take a couple of days apart to do some soul-searching. Can Pete make up for his mistake?

Is it any good?

An odd, misguided remake of a 2014 Swedish movie, this sour, muddled comedy seems to have missed the original's point. Here, it's 86 minutes spent with detestable people who argue and make excuses. Force Majeure was an excruciating black comedy so deliberately level and deadpan that it forced viewers to ask themselves the unanswerable question: What would I have done if it were me? Downhill, on the other hand, draws all of its attention to its unlikable characters -- and it's likely that many viewers' only thought will be: How soon can I get out of here?

Ferrell and Louis-Dreyfus are great performers, and both try their best here. Ferrell is, frankly, miscast. Much of his comedy comes from a sense of childlike arrested development juxtaposed with a big man's body. He's never been about masculinity or bravery. And poor Louis-Dreyfus mainly shrieks and fusses and looks pinched and angry, except in one strange slapstick sequence during which she nearly sleeps with a sexy ski instructor. Co-writers/co-directors Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, whose wonderful The Way Way Back did seem to have a grasp on human behavior, simply can't decide on what they want to say in Downhill, or how to say it. They settle on a bizarre, semi-humorous ending that borrows a little from the Swedish film but misses its ambiguity.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the way that Downhill depicts sex. What does it mean to the characters? What values are imparted by the way they treat it?

  • Does arguing count as violence? How does it feel to watch the main couple fighting, arguing, and shouting at each other?

  • Why do you think people tend to judge cowardice harshly, when every human being is capable of fear?

  • Is it possible to live life to the fullest, as if each day were all we had? Why don't we tend to live like that more regularly?

  • How is drinking portrayed? Is it glamorized, and are there consequences?

Movie details

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