Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Will Ferrell star a tepid remake of Ruben Ostlund’s emotionally eviscerating Force Majeure, Sweden’s Academy Award Foreign Language entry in 2014.
Affluent Americans Billie (Louis-Dreyfus) and Pete (Ferrell) Stanton are on an Austrian ski vacation with their two pre-adolescent sons. Enjoying a festive lunch outdoors on the deck of a mountainside restaurant, they hear a distant explosion as a terrifying cascade of snow heads toward them.
Panicked Pete grabs his iPhone and flees, leaving Billie to protect young Finn (Julian Grey) and Emerson (Ammon Jacob Ford) during the supposedly controlled avalanche. His selfish, split-second reaction triggers a long-festering schism in their marriage.
Obviously yearning for the carefree days of his youth, Pete seems to be obsessed with following his younger buddy Zach (Zach Woods) on Instagram as he cavorts through Europe with his girlfriend Rosie (Zoe Chan), posting enticing photos with hashtags like #NoAgenda and #LiveYourBestLife.
Exasperated and furious, Billie then spends solo time with Guglielmo (Giulio Berruti) an Italian ski instructor, a set-up provided by hedonistic Charlotte (Miranda Otto), a white spandex-clad resort employee who spends her winters having affairs with guests and her summers back home on the farm with her husband.
Eventually, Pete admits that he behaved like a “selfish coward.” But instead of Ostlund’s dark psychological thriller, exploring gender stereotypes and assumptions, screenwriter Jesse Armstrong (TV’s “Succession”) and co-directors Nat Faxon and Jim Rash (“The Way Way Back”) opt for shallow, superficial comedy, trivializing the entire concept.
This is the first release since the Walt Disney Company bought 20th Century-Fox’s film and television assets in 2019 to feature the Searchlight Pictures logo without the Fox name.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, Downhill descends to a frustrating 5, never delving into the essential undercurrents.