We all like to think that if our loved ones were in danger we would rise to the occasion and protect them. But not everyone is a hero. Sometimes people don’t come to the rescue when others need them the most. Then they have to live with the shame and disappointment of their own shortcomings. And so do the ones they failed. It’s an awkward situation, and it can ruin relationships. But as the first trailer for Downhill shows, it can also be really freaking funny to watch. Especially when it happens to Will Ferrell and Julia Louis-Dreyfus. The two play a couple whose marriage is threatened after he bails on her and their kids during an apparent avalanche.
From the film’s official synopsis:
“Barely escaping an avalanche during a family ski vacation in the Alps, a married couple is thrown into disarray as they are forced to reevaluate their lives and how they feel about each other.”
Just because a movie has two legendary stars in it doesn’t guarantee it will be a success. Think of it as the “Ishtar Corollary” of Hollywood. But any film starring Will Ferrell and Julia Louis-Dreyfus has a pretty good chance of success. And the premise for Downhill seems like a perfect vehicle for the pair to lead. Each knows how to mine humor from awkward situations, and there’s nothing more awkward than a dad literally running away from his wife and kids as imminent death rains down on them. This is a cringeworthy premise that plays to their strengths. Both are great at creating sympathetic and hilarious characters who feel like real, flawed people. And this premise has already proven successful.
Downhill is Fox Searchlight‘s remake of the popular 2014 Swedish film Force Majeure. Based on this first trailer, this new version looks like a very faithful adaptation of the original. If that means Ferrell’s cowardly father is just as awful as the dad in the original, him and Julia Louis-Dreyfus are going to have us laughing and wincing a lot. Often at the same time.
It also helps that the movie is helmed by Oscar winners Nat Faxon and Jim Rash. The pair shared the 2011 Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay (The Descendants) with Alexander Payne, who co-directed the movie. In addition to directing the film, Faxon and Rash also wrote Downhill with Succession‘s Jesse Armstrong. Obviously they wanted someone who knows a little something about family members who hate each other. The film also stars Miranda Otto, Zach Woods, Zoë Chao, and Game of Thrones’ Kristofer Hivju.
Even if you have never seen Force Majeure, which means “an event or effect that cannot be reasonably anticipated or controlled,” you might still be familiar with it. The scene of the dad running away from the “avalanche” made its way around the internet as a “real” clip. And people got angry online. Real angry.
In fairness, if you don’t know this is from a movie it does look authentic.
If anyone is going to do something that terrible, we’re glad it’s Will Ferrell. Especially when Julia Louis-Dreyfus will be the one to call him out on it. There’s a lot of humor in seeing someone else be a coward.
Downhill hits the slopes when it comes to theaters next year, February 14, 2020.
Featured Image: Fox Searchlight