It’s not a comedy, so stop calling it a comedy. It’s not A COMEDY. What we have here is a marriage-in-trouble drama remake of Ruben Ostlund’s 2014 drama “Force Majeure.” So why didn’t they cast Robert Pattison and Tilda Swinton? I would have gone to that.

Writer directors Nat Faxon and Jim Rash are so clever. They cast Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Will Ferrell and set them on the Austrian Alps with skis and poles, so you’ll think it’s going to be a male female Laurel and Hardy comedy. But it’s not a comedy. Worse. Almost the entire movie is set on the slopes.

The good news is that it’s only 85 minutes long. That’s because they took out the parts where Ferrell slips on a banana, and Louis-Dreyfus gets hit in the face with a pie. I think they should have kept the red rubber noses.

I kept waiting for Kate McKinnon and Pete Davidson from Saturday Night Live to come skiing into them. After 80 minutes had passed, and Colin Jost and Michael Che hadn’t yet appeared with the news, I knew I was in the wrong theater.

Louis-Dreyfus and Ferrell? This is the problem. Julia is a master of comedy. So good at comedy is she, that in almost every “Seinfeld” segment she held her own and often rose above Jerry Seinfeld and Jason Alexander.

Ferrell is an inept comic actor at best. He excelled as “Elf” and “The Lego Movie.” Next question?

Here’s the plot: Billie and Pete Stanton, (Louis-Dreyfus/Ferrell) described as a middle-class couple, she a much brighter attorney and he, well, it’s never quite clear what he does, perhaps manager of a Toys “R” Us store, are in a loveless sit-com marriage and take their two sons, who would rather be skateboarding at home, to the Alps for a ski vacation.

The script makes them appear as great skiers, but there are never any closeups of them actually skiing.

Then, while they are eating lunch on the deck overlooking all of Austria, a controlled avalanche is set off. It comes crashing down on the diners.

Only after the snow clears does Billie realize that hubby Pete had panicked and run into the restaurant, leaving his family to fend for themselves.

The rest of the 85 minutes is spent with scenes, ski and apres ski, confronting his cowardice.

There are two completely inane scenes with other actors, Zach (Zach Woods) of “Silicon Valley” and Rosie (Zoe Chao) where everything wrong with the Stanton’s marriage comes bucketing out, and one where Billie is trapped in a mountain cabin with a sexy French instructor who comes onto her.

At more than one point, as I was dozing off, I longed for Kramer and George Costanza to come bursting into the hotel room.

“Downhill” is one of those desperate “after the Oscar” movies thrown in until the better early spring films start showing up. It’s called show business.


J.P. Devine, of Waterville, is a former stage and screen actor.

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