Downhill

Downhill2

By Joanna Langfield

Sadly, this unnecessary remake is a cautionary tale. Not only does it remind us to ski carefully and show up when your family needs you, it also proves those queasy fears when American filmmakers think they can do it better are not always unfounded.

Adapted by Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, who gave us the wonderful The Descendants, this second run of the international critical hit Force Majeure had promise. The original film is a shattering glory, taking on the subject of adulthood and responsibility with a fresh and comically profound impact. Faxon and Rash, collaborating here with Succession’s Jesse Armstrong, are proven smart filmmakers. And their cast, starring a game Will Ferrell and a you-can’t-help-but-root-for-her Julia Louis Dreyfus, has a fabulous comic history as well as an effective dramatic one.

So why doesn’t this movie work? I’m not one of those “leave well enough alone” types. The theme and execution of the original is tantalizing and, especially as few American audiences saw it, maybe there is room for an adaptation. But, if you’re going to tackle a remake, you need to make it work, not just in comparison, but on its own. Few, it seems, do.

Must American versions feel they should go louder, broader and leave less room for the delicate punch? Even the timing of the avalanche here, the event which sets off an earth shaking string of events for our vacationing young family, seems off and, because of that, not particularly scary. Those familiar with the first film will get a chuckle out of seeing one of the memorable actors from the first show up here, but the actual laughs the film is being marketed as delivering are few and far between. Dreyfus deftly carries the load, making us wish she and the rest of her capable team had nailed this aspiring let down.

 

One Response to “Downhill”

  1. Downhill | The Movie Minute Says:

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