Movie review

Now showing in Taos: ‘Downhill’

 Masters of awkward and uncomfortable humor turn a Swedish remake into a barely tolerable experience 

By Rick Romancito
For Taos News
Posted 2/15/20

 

Hopefully, you didn’t see “Downhill” as a date movie for Valentines Day because if you did it might have let the air out of whatever romantic ideas you might have had …

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Movie review

Now showing in Taos: ‘Downhill’

 Masters of awkward and uncomfortable humor turn a Swedish remake into a barely tolerable experience 

Posted
 
Hopefully, you didn’t see “Downhill” as a date movie for Valentines Day because if you did it might have let the air out of whatever romantic ideas you might have had before going in. Still, if you are familiar with the comedy stylings of Will Ferrell and Julia Louis Dreyfus that should have been the first clue.
 
This movie directed by Nat Faxon and Jim Rash is based on Ruben Östlund’s 2014 Swedish film, “Force Majeure,” which was an acclaimed comedy-drama about the the aftermath of a father’s decision when an avalanche threatens his family while on vacation. That movie was a canny look at the tenuous bonds between people in the midst of a crisis. This movie is a cringe-inducing, I-wish-there-was-a-fast-forward-button-to-push experience.
 
Faxon and Dash make this about Americans on a Euro ski vacation complete with clashing mores, languages, customs and attitudes, while overlaying the best of what the original had going for it, namely, the cracks that appear in the relationship between the couple at the center of this story, in this case, Billie and Pete Stanton (Dreyfus and Ferrell). But, if you saw the original, there is not much that an American production could add except for Ferrell’s irritating missed-cue humor, which seems to be his stock in trade. 
 
The story opens with the Stantons and their two young boys, Emerson and Finn (Ammon Jacob Ford and Julian Grey) arriving at a lovely ski resort, which is not exactly kid-friendly, something they learn from a comically sophisticated concierge named Charlotte (Miranda Otto). However, there is a family resort down the road. The settle in anyway and begin skiing and enjoying the resort’s amenities — until one day during lunch on the deck of a restaurant. 
 
As we see from the beginning of the film, the resort regularly bombs the slopes to release avalanche energy. Everyone, meaning the staff and vacationers, all take this as common practice and are not at all concerned. It’s a safety precaution. But, when a wall of snow starts heading toward the Stantons and their boys at their table, they become terrified because it looks like they will be killed. After a moment of pure terror the snow cloud settles, the sun comes out, patrons right themselves, waiters re-set the tables and chairs, and things seem back to normal. But, then, mom and the boys discover dad is missing.
 
A few seconds later, he shows up and seems unscathed. It is obvious that Billie is traumatized by the experience and is confused about what happened to Pete. After all, her first instinct was to grab her sons and hold them close as the avalanche crashed around them. So, where was Pete?
 
Billie appears to hold back her emotions to keep the kids from getting too upset, but from her obvious barely veiled hostility she is clearly mad at Pete for seeming to abandon them. She keeps it together until Pete invites a work colleague and his girlfriend to spend an evening without telling Billie. That’s when she unleashes her anger and when Pete gives his obviously made-up version of the “facts,” which is possibly a cloaked reference to a certain world leader’s manipulation of the truth.
 
Upon reflection, the movie ultimately has a point about relationships and the missed opportunities people use to obfuscate their own mistakes, but Ferrell and Dreyfus, and the directors too, mangle them to make this about the comedy actors and their aforementioned comedy stylings. 
 
By the way, “Force Majeure” can be seen on the Hulu online streaming service.
 
“Downhill” is rated R for language and some sexual material. 
 
Tempo grade: C-
 
It is screening daily at Mitchell Storyteller 7 Theatres, 110 Old Talpa Cañón Road. For tickets, showtimes and additional information, call (575) 751-4245 or visit storyteller7.com.
 
Also showing in Taos
 
Bombshell
 
MPA rating: R for sexual material and language throughout.
 
Taos Community Auditorium
 
Based upon the real life scandal, this film from director Jay Roach takes us behind the scenes at FOX News, considered to be one of the most powerful and controversial media empires of all time, to reveal the explosive story of the women who brought down the infamous man who created it, Roger Ailes.
 
This film stars Charlize Theron as Megan Kelly, Nicole Kidman as Gretchen Carlson, Margot Robbie as Kayla Pospisil, Allison Janney as Susan Estrich, Malcolm McDowell as Rupert Murdoch and John Lithgow as Roger Ailes.
 
According to imdb.com, “Margot Robbie revealed that her character's scenes in the office of FOX News Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes, played by John Lithgow, were some of the most uncomfortable to film.” 
 
This film will be screened at 2 p.m. Sunday (Feb. 16), and 7 p.m. Monday through Wednesday (Feb. 17-19) and Friday and Saturday (Feb. 21-22) at the Taos Community Auditorium, 145 Paseo del Pueblo Norte. For tickets and additional information, call (575) 758-2052 or visit tcataos.org.
 
Fantasy Island
 
MPA rating: PG-13 for violence, terror, drug content, suggestive material and brief strong language.
 
Storyteller 7 Theatres
 
Yes, this movie is inspired by the 1970s popular TV show starring Ricardo Montalban (1920-2009) about vacationers who are given an opportunity to live out their deepest desires, which could turn out fulfilling or uncomfortably revealing. But, what the filcksters at Blumhouse Productions have done is add a bit of modern horror to the mix. 
 
The enigmatic Mr. Roarke (Michael Peña) makes the secret dreams of his lucky guests come true at a luxurious but remote tropical resort. But when the fantasies turn into nightmares, the guests have to solve the island's mystery in order to escape with their lives. 
 
This film was directed by Jeff Wadlow (“Kick-Ass 2”) and stars Maggie Q, Michael Rooker, Lucy Hale, and Charlotte McKinney.
 
It is screening daily at Mitchell Storyteller 7 Theatres, 110 Old Talpa Cañón Road. For tickets, showtimes and additional information, call (575) 751-4245 or visit storyteller7.com.
 
 
Sonic the Hedgehog
 
MPA rating: PG for action, some violence, rude humor and brief mild language.
 
Storyteller 7 Theatres
 
Based on the global blockbuster videogame franchise from Sega, “Sonic the Hedgehog” tells the story of the world's speediest hedgehog as he embraces his new home on Earth. 
 
In this live-action mixed with CGI adventure comedy, Sonic and his new best friend Tom (James Marsden) team up to defend the planet from the evil genius Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey) and his plans for world domination. The family-friendly film also stars Tika Sumpter and Ben Schwartz as the voice of Sonic. 
 
Directed by Jeff Fowler, this film co-stars Neal McDonough, Lee Majdoub, and Natasha Rothwell.
 
It is screening daily at Mitchell Storyteller 7 Theatres, 110 Old Talpa Cañón Road. For tickets, showtimes and additional information, call (575) 751-4245 or visit storyteller7.com.

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