For any feature, walking the tightrope of drama and comedy is never an easy thing to do. Too many movies get lost trying to maintain the balance between the two genres either finding themselves incapable of properly capturing both spectrum of emotion simultaneously or instead losing the audience to tone mismanagement. Downhill, directed by Jim Rash and Nat Faxon, sometimes stumbles into the latter pitfall but thanks to a pair of experienced leads it manages to barely stay on the rope long enough to tell a story of love and trust.
Will Ferrell and Julia Louis-Dreyfus star as Pete and Bille Staunton, a married couple on a family ski trip in the Alps. When confronted by a lunchtime avalanche scare Pete bolts for safety, only stopping to grab his phone, leaving his family and their bowls of soup to fend for themselves. While the threat dissipates in a matter of seconds, Pete’s decision creates a rift in the family unit that threatens to tear them apart before vacation’s end.
A remake of the 2014 film Force Majeure, Downhill attempts to differentiate itself with two of the biggest faces of the old guard of comedy. While the film’s leads are at their best performance wise (more on that later), their presence manages to do more harm than good at times. The writing and direction doesn’t do them any favors either, and the two are in conflict with each other during the film’s pivotal moments. During my screening, there were a handful of emotional moments cut short thanks to a quick reaction shot with unclear intent.
It’s unfortunate because after a couple of years of so-so sequels and films best left forgotten, Will Ferrell returns to a style of acting that he hasn’t showcased since 2010’s Everything Must Go. Don’t worry you’ll still get a few of the Ferrell classics, belligerent drunkenness and shouting make their necessary appearances, but it’s the quieter moments that get you invested. Ferrell portrays Pete with a somber distance. A man who knows but won’t admit he’s made a mistake; one who sees happiness is just around the corner, and yet he can never quite reach it due to forces within himself he won’t confront. It’s a portrayal of fatherhood that Ferrell should continue to take chances on again in the future.
Ferrell’s performance is a return to form of sorts, but Louis-Dreyfus goes beat-for-beat with him managing to best him more times than not. She embodies Billie’s sense of devastation and distrust with equal parts rage and shakiness. It’s a more showy part than Ferrell’s Pete and Louis-Dreyfus doesn’t back down. Her ability to deliver on the script’s weightiest moments resonants, and when she is given the chance to let loose it’s an emotional avalanche that can overwhelm.
We also get a couple of highlight supporting performances from Miranda Otto as a sexually explicit hotel liaison and Zach Woods as Pete’s friend who is living a #lifewithnoagenda. The former is the more ridiculous of the two, but both act as springboards to tempt and discourage Pete and Billie with what they could be missing out on in life.
At 90 minutes, Downhill is a satisfactory dramedy buoyed by leads who are pushing themselves out of their comfort zone for the benefit of the audience. While the film may not be making the best use of these performances, it works to show that we should give “comedy” actors more chances to spread their wings.
Finally, the Cinderella story of the Richmond Greyhounds has come to an end.
We are now in a new season for the team, and they have started off on the wrong
foot. The team is broken up and Ted has his work cut out for him. The team goes
through a slump, and Ted is now doubting his coaching ability. Ted’s personal life
has also gotten out of control, and he discovers his ex-wife Michelle has started a relationship with their therapist. The wonderkid, Nathan Shelley, the former manager of West Ham has had a change of heart and leaves his job to be with his one true love, the waitress from his favorite restaurant.
She convinces him to return to the Richmond team he started out in and it’s quite evident that
everyone wants him back and held no hard feelings. All of Lawrence’s series he has worked on with others have just that right balance of slice-of-life drama with a little bit of ridiculous comedy that reality dishes us, normal folks, every day.
This all comes to a head in the potential series finale where Ted announced to
Rebecca that he will be returning to the States to his family after his mother tells
him that his son misses him. This puts the Richmond owner into quite a state of denial; doing everything from offering Ted the position of being the highest-paid coach in the league to selling the team after he leaves. The team is also affected by this decision as they perform a number from the musical The Sound of Music that is a more than touching farewell to this family.
This bleeds into their playing as in the final title match the first half is met with
bumbling and possible injuries to their star player Jamie.
After an energizing pep talk and a circle back to the first motivator in the
beginning, a sign Ted made up that said “BELIEVE”, the team dominate the second
half and win with a rousing closing scene that is reminiscent of any 80’s party
movie. It’s a fitting end for this pandemic darling that emotionally carried us through. It is
a must-see series even if you don’t like soccer (football).
No Question Mark Box Here; Super Mario Delivers a 1-Up in Theaters
If you were born in the ’80s, ’90s, or literally ANY decade after those, you know about Super Mario. A cultural phenomenon was brought to life on the big screen this last weekend. One that has not only stood the test of time but reinvented itself time and time again. This wasn’t even the first time it’s been made into a movie but, well, let’s be honest.. some of us choose not to acknowledge the LIVE action adaptation of the beloved game from 30 years ago.
It was pretty bad… But this was animation. ILLUMINATION animation at that. The Universal company that brought us Gru and his Minions, showed us the Secret Life of Pets, and gave us a reason to SING! Still, I had my reservations and even some concerns, especially when the casting was announced.
Eyebrows were raised. As big of stars as they were on paper, could they really deliver on voicing characters from a staple of our childhood? They did.
Chris Pratt and Charlie Day may not be Italian, and Jack Black may not be a King or Turtle creature from the Mushroom Kingdom, but they make the characters their own all while paying homage to the lore of a video game.
From the jump, the story reintroduces us to the brothers that just want to save Brooklyn one clogged sink at a time. We feel an instant connection and relate to these “underdogs of the plumbing world”. The movie is riddled with easter eggs, each of which tugs on the heartstrings of every generation of Mario fandom. And the soundtrack was beautifully put together to not only make us feel like we’re taking a walkthrough of the game but like an experience all its own with some familiar favorites thrown in.
Every word in the movie is pure eye candy for both those that are casual fans, and those analyzing every frame to see what they’ll catch next. Bowser’s ship, the Mushroom Kingdom, Kong’s arena, and the Rainbow Road.. They’re all meant to give us just enough of a “new” look at these amazing worlds, but stay true to how we remember them.
The movie itself moves along at the perfect pace. Although, if you don’t really know ANYTHING about the Super Mario Bros, you may have gotten a little lost and felt left behind in the green tunnel. But that’s ok! It’s an adventure of the imagination and a classic story of a boy that meets a girl and tries to save the world from a monster that wants to destroy it.
What’s funny is that you could easily say this is a story about two characters who couldn’t be more opposite if they tried, battling to win the heart of a princess. Who would’ve thought that the King of the Koopas was just trying to impress his crush?
And that song? Ohhh THAT song! It’s my new ringtone and deserves the Oscar for Best Original Song.
Back to the movie.
Universal and Illumination clearly understood the assignment. Is it missing some things or could things have been done differently or even better? Absolutely! We’re the worst critics of the things we hold nearest and dearest to our hearts. But if you’re up for going on a 90-minute adventure through amazing worlds, with awesome music, and characters that’ll make you smile and laugh, then this is the perfect movie to spring you into that warm summer feeling.
Plus there’s the whole part with karts and shells, and banana peels and oh my goodness how amazing was that?? It’s enough to make you want to stand up and cheer, then go home and destroy your friends and family on your favorite track haha.
The bottom line, it pays homage in all the right ways to the little guy with the mustache, while giving us something new and exciting. Take the kids and go see Super Mario Bros. You’ll be glad you did!
Warner Bros. Discovery Home Entertainment returns to WonderCon 2023
Justice League x RWBY: Superheroes & Hunters Opening Act Saturday, March 25 at 1:30 p.m. on North 200A. Talent confirmed so far to participate in the post-screening panel is Natalie Alyn Lind (Big Sky, The Goldbergs, Gotham) as Wonder Woman/Diana Prince and longtime RWBY cast member Lindsay Jones (Camp Camp) as Ruby, Kara Eberle ( RWBY: Ice Queendom) as Weiss, Arryn Zech (Detective Now Dead) as Blake and Barbara Dunkelman (Blood Fest) as Yang – along with Jeannie Tirado (Soul, Saints Row) as Green Lantern and Tru Valentino (The Rookie, The Cuphead Show!) as a cyborg. Also attending the panel will be producer/director Kerry Shawcross (series RWBY) and writer Meghan Fitzmartin (Supernatural, Justice Society: World War II).
Warner Bros. Discovery Home Entertainment returns to WonderCon 2023 with the big screen debut from DC Animated Films: highlights this year include the world premieres of the highly anticipated Batman: The Doom That Came To Gotham and Justice League x RWBY: Superheroes & Hunters Part One the weekend of March 24-26 in Anaheim, California. Both screenings will be followed by panel discussions with actors and creators. Batman: The Doom That Came To Gotham premieres at The Arena on Friday, March 24 at 6 p.m. Tati Gabrielle (Kaleidoscope, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Uncharted) as Kai Li Cain, Christopher Gorham (The Lincoln Lawyer, Insatiable) as Oliver Queen, David Dastmalchian (Dune, Suicide Squad, Ant-Man) as Grendon, producer/co-director Sam Liu (The Death and the Return of Superman), co-director Christopher Berkeley (Young Justice) and screenwriter Jase Ricci (Teen Titans Go! and DC Super Hero Girls: Mayhem Across the Multiverse).
Both films will have encore screenings in the Arena on Sunday, March 26. Justice League x RWBY: Super Heroes & Huntsmen, Part One will screen at 12:15pm, followed by Batman: The Doom That Came To Gotham at 2:00pm