Movie Review: Downhill is a dark, awkward and hilarious comedy

2 years ago Triangle 0

Written by: Devin Burrow, managing editor

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Pictured above: Julia Louis-Dreyfuss and Will Ferrel in first act of Downhill 

Will Ferrel is well known for his outrageous and often absurd comedy movies such as Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy and Elf. However, his latest outing as a dysfunctional father and husband in the dark comedy Downhill shows his versatility as an actor. The film allows him and his co-actors to shine in a way that is rarely found in this genre of movie.

Downhill is rated R for adult language and some suggestive material regarding adult content. 

Downhill follows a family that is struggling to stay together while on vacation in the Alps after an avalanche puts a strain on the marriage of the parents (played by Will Ferrel and Julia Louis-Dreyfuss). The film’s comedy ventures away from Ferrel’s usually slapstick humor and leans more on situational and often-times awkward moments.

Ferrel’s character “Pete” is an easy-going, self-righteous husband and father, while his opposite, Louis-Dreyfuss, plays an anxious, outspoken wife and mother. The characters are so well written and portrayed that it brought me back to my childhood. 

As a child of divorced parents, I have experienced painful and heartbreaking fights and arguments; even the silent, passive-aggressive ones. This film gives some of the best portrayals of these incidents I have ever seen while doing a fantastic job of bringing humor out of them. Some of these moments are filled with awkward tension or aggressive rambling which can only be described with one word: realistic. 

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Pictured above: The family featured in Downhill watching the avalanche

The main conflict of the movie centers around a singular event that happens within the first 15 minutes. As usual at ski resorts, a controlled avalanche storms down a mountain near the resort dining facility where the family is conversing about their upcoming meal. 

Many of the other people around spot the avalanche and proceed to capture the moment on their phone cameras. That is until the avalanche reaches the patio and a flurry of snow sprays the onlookers who hadn’t scurried away in fear. 

During this event, Pete grabs his phone and takes off, leaving his family to fend for themselves in what they perceived as a life-threatening situation. Obviously, this event was controlled and no one was injured, but his family, especially his wife, did not forget Pete’s desertion. 

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            Pictured above: Will Ferrel and Zack Woods share a pint after a ski trip in the movie Downhill 

The rest of the movie follows the couple as they take turns spending time with their two boys, while also trying to figure out how to repair their relationship. Downhill does fail at expanding the relationship of the parents to the children of the family, which doesn’t lead the audience to care about Pete’s image in his boys’ eyes. 

Downhill has a runtime of 90 minutes, but it really feels like the movie lasts several hours due to its somewhat predictable plot. While I did enjoy most of the film’s humorous moments and would recommend this to a couple looking for a smart, funny movie for date night, the film is not for a family theater trip.

There are several instances of implied sexual relations and adult language throughout the film that many Christian families may not be comfortable with. Though realistic and humorous, I hope to be a faithful father and husband from the start of my marriage this summer as God has been a faithful father to me.

I give this film, Downhill, four out of five stars. 

Downhill is currently playing in theaters and is rated R for adult language and some suggestive material regarding adult content. 

*Note: this article expresses the ideas and opinions of the author and are not a reflection of the views of the Triangle or Bryan College as a whole.

Devin Burrow is the managing editor for He is a senior communication major with an emphasis in digital media. Devin loves movies and cooking food for his friends and family.