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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

Down For the Count

Downhill (2020) on IMDb

Plot Overview

happy familyA somewhat happy family takes a vacation to the Austrian alps to escape the dol­drums. The two boys Finn (Julian Grey) and Emerson (Ammon Jacob Ford) Stanton need to spend more time out­doors, but they retreat to “screen time” even here as there aren't any other children to play with. The mother Billie (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) recalls partying in her wild college days, but she's in a new chapter of life now. The father Pete (Will Ferrell) is trying to get over the death of his dad eight months ago, but he's hit with a new trauma from a controlled avalanche.

handshakeThe movie itself is a lesson in manners, which one doesn't have to travel to learn, but perhaps it helps. Instead of the American custom of pressing flesh, zany hostess Charlotte (Miranda Otto) shows them the European custom of “touching other body parts,” i.e. cheek kissing. There's the importance of reading the posted warnings so the staff can execute their controlled demolitions with­out it being thought a “problem.” There's the importance of being on time so the other helicopter passengers don't miss the spell of good weather. There's the importance of waiting in line so Pete doesn't get banned from the slide for tapping the slowpoke ahead of him. And there are the manners in dealing with unexpected guests when Pete's work buddy Zach (Zach Woods) with his latest fling Rosie (Zoe Chao) drop by unplanned.


As Zach and Pete are walking along, one remarks to the other about the snow scene, that it's “like one of those screen savers.” Me, I've done so many thousands of miles bike commuting that awareness of my surroundings is by now second nature. I'd see snow­pack ready to come down. Like­wise, I've spent so many years ball­room dancing that I auto­matic­ally guard my female partners against any collisions. To be sure, I'm more accustomed to escorting women around the puddles of Eugene than snow in the alps, but it would be an easy enough transition. I'd sit on the patio with my back to the snow and let the woman sit on a chair across from me affording her nominal protection and allowing her easy egress, not vice versa. A guy with­out specialized training might find him­self looking bad (“Dad ran away.”)

There's a biblical example of a people finding themselves in a land of uncustomary manners. (2Kings 17:24-28) “And the king of Assyria brought men from Babylon, and from Cuthah, and from Ava, and from Hamath, and from Sephar­vaim, and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the children of Israel: and they possessed Samaria, and dwelt in the cities thereof. And so it was at the beginning of their dwelling there, that they feared not the LORD: there­fore the LORD sent lions among them, which slew some of them. Where­fore they spake to the king of Assyria, saying, The nations which thou hast removed, and placed in the cities of Samaria, know not the manner of the God of the land: there­fore he hath sent lions among them, and, behold, they slay them, because they know not the manner of the God of the land. Then the king of Assyria commanded, saying, Carry thither one of the priests whom ye brought from thence; and let them go and dwell there, and let him teach them the manner of the God of the land. Then one of the priests whom they had carried away from Samaria came and dwelt in Bethel, and taught them how they should fear the LORD.” In fact Charlotte lines up Billie with a ski instructor Guglielmo (Giulio Berruti) who indeed teaches Billie alpine manners that she emulates like a tiger. Having gotten it together Billie can then help Pete save some face.

There's an earlier biblical example of bad manners, when some kids mock a man of God for not having a covering of hair, (2Kings 2:23-24) “And he went up from thence unto Bethel: and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head. And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the LORD. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them.” Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!

But the archetypical instance of mocking a man of God for being uncovered was when Noah's youngest son (Gen. 9:22) “Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the naked­ness of his father, and told his two brethren with­out.” Noah hit Ham's son Canaan with a specific curse (Gen. 9:24-25) “And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son [Ham] had done unto him. And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren.” The lines of Noah's other two sons Shem and Japheth would be the masters and Ham's line represented here by Canaan would be the slaves. Ham's descendants were black and settled in Africa. It is the master who teaches his slaves appropriate manners. In our movie Billie hadn't wanted a ski instructor on her “solo day,” but Charlotte foisted one on her. I imagine the new settlers of Samaria might not have wanted a Jewish priest teaching them “the manner of the God of the land,” but the king gave them one any­way. And judging from America's more recent political history, the Negro slaves were not too keen on their white masters, but that's what Noah gave them to help them manage their manners in the renewed world. This movie does touch base with that arche­type of a naked and embarrassed Noah (Gen. 9:20-21) when the stall door pops open exposing a dishabille Billie masturbating away.

Production Values

” (2020) was inspired by the 2014 Swedish flick “Force Majeure” by Ruben Ostlund. This one was written and directed Nat Faxon and Jim Rash. Jesse Arm­strong also helped them write the English version. It stars Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Will Ferrell, and Miranda Otto. Farrell was not assigned any kind of flamboyant role here but had the part of a dis­ap­poin­ting dad. He looked the part. Louis-Dreyfus was out­standing in her role of a mama who's the super glue of the family. Julian Grey and Ammon Jacob Ford, the actors who played the sons, did a good enough job not upstaging the adults. Otto was memorable as a wacky ski resort wallah.

MPAA rated it R for language and some sexual material. It was filmed in Vienna, Austria and made use of drones to photo­graph some of the action on the snow. It's a tidy 1½ hours long. It's not a typical Will Ferrell fun movie but a sad drama with mediocre comedic material.

Review Conclusion w/ Christian Recommendation

If your significant other is trying to persuade you to accompany her to this movie, my recommendation is to have some ready made excuses … and back­up excuses. Not every relation­ship can survive a discussion of what the dad could or should have done. Other than that, it's a good enough drama if that's what interests you. It's good to see an actor branch out away from type.

Movie Ratings

Action Factor: Weak action scenes. Suitability For Children: Not Suitable for Children of Any Age. Special effects: Average special effects. Video Occasion: Good for Groups. Suspense: A few suspenseful moments. Overall movie rating: Four stars out of five.