Coming to Bluray from directors Nat Faxon, Jim Rash and 20th Century Home Entertainment is a moment that can make their world go DOWNHILL.
Billie (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) and Pete (Will Ferrell) have taken their two sons Emerson (Ammon Ford) and Finn (Julian Grey) to the Alps for a family ski trip. Pete is still dealing with the death of his father and chooses a hotel that is not really family oriented as they are informed by hotel greeter Charlotte (Miranda Otto). Making the bet of it the family hit the slopes for the first day of skiing.
After, they head to the patio for lunch overlooking the vast and huge mountains. Hearing what sounds like gunfire, within moments everyone on the patio notices an avalanche coming towards them. As it gets closer and closer, Billie and Pete realize that something has gone terribly wrong. As people start to run, Billie sees the chaos and hugs her sons tight while Pete jumps up and runs away.
Once the snow settles and everyone is okay but shaken, Pete returns to the table as if nothing has happened shocking Billie. Clearly the day is over. The next day Billie is still talking about it and needs to make sure the hotel knows how she feels, and they talk to Michel (Kristofer Hivju) who does not seem all that impressed by their concerns.
In contact with fellow co-worker Zach (Zach Woods) and girlfriend Rosie (Zoe Chao), Billie is not happy about sitting through a visit with them. Listening to their idle chatter with Pete, she interrupts when he refers to their avalanche incident as a ‘moment’. It is a calm that would scare most men, Billie calls him out on the details while Zach and Rosie witness it all.
Taking a solo day, Billie tells Pete he gets the boys for the day as she takes off to ski. Meeting up with Charlotte, they have a woman on woman talk (with Charlotte doing most of the talking) and Billie is introduced to Guglielmo (Giulio Berruti) and a choice has to be made.
But that’s not the only choice as they can’t continue with this vacation until someone steps forward and calls out the elephant on the slopes!
Louis-Dreyfus as Billie is everything one would expect of a woman in a marriage that has problems, but she is quiet about it all. The avalanche is pretty much a metaphor for her life and pressure cooker of emotions. Each moment of not resolving her issues, fissures begin to release about everything else BUT the avalanche. Louis-Dreyfus gives us a full-blown view of her life and some of it is even relatable for many of us.
Ferrell as Pete is a husband who seems to be more concerned with what he wants than what his family wants. Granted Pete is still dealing with the emotions of losing his father but putting his needs before that of his wife and sons starts to make him look selfish and trust the family notices. I like roles like this for Ferrell where we get to experience more from him than comedy. Playing opposite Louis-Dreyfus, it is an amazing give and take.
Woods as Zach is someone Pete professes to not want to be around yet hangs out with him. Under the spell of a new girlfriend, Zach seems to have changed his tune about life. Chao as Rosie lets Zach speak his truth but makes sure he says it the way she thinks he should. It quickly becomes clear who wears the ski-pants in the relationship.
Otto as Charlotte absolutely won me over with her straight-forward, straight talking hilarious hotel greeter. Watching Billie’s facial reactions to her brashness was everything and a comedic break in the otherwise heavy story. Also, a shout out to Hivju as Michel because I laughed so hard with his I-don’t-see-the-problem looks and mainly because I’d probably act the same way.
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DOWNHILL’s Bluray and Digital Special Features include Casting the Stanton Family and Friends, Deleted Scenes: Alternate Opening, Billie’s Ski Boots, “I Deserve to be Comfortable:, Outtakes: Dinner with Charlotte, Origins of the Film and Locations.
DOWNHILL is a mixed bag of emotions starting out with the usual tourist family visiting the ski slope of the Alps, to a ‘moment’ when life flashes, to acting as if nothing has happened, to wondering who this person is Billie is married to. There are a few moments of giggle which I appreciated because they fit perfectly into the story.
Louis-Dreyfus is one of the producers of the film and says, “I am a huge fan of the Swedish film FORCE MAJEURE and was very amenable to make an American version of it. I thought it would be very interesting to put an American spin on it and open up some of these characters in different ways. Five years later we have got a movie.” A trivia note, Hivju was in the original FORCE MAJEURE playing the role of Zach.
I actually enjoyed taking the journey through this story because Louis-Dreyfus and Ferrell make every second work. It’s a story of life, love, the pressure of family, relationships with the backdrop of trying to create the perfect family vacation which equals disaster.
In the end – it’s a different kind of disaster movie!