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Downhill is doable. [Movie Review]

When a couple (Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Will Ferrell) and their two sons face a life and death crisis on a ski trip in Austria, the husband’s response to the situation leads the spouses to examine their entire relationship.

Downhill is an intense, psychological thriller and while it sometimes drags, overall, it’s a thought-provoking experience and earns a See It! rating.

Often in relationships, it’s not the major issues like cheating or abuse that threatens the bond. It’s an incident or response to a situation that causes individuals to question each other’s commitment. Not only was the wife greatly disappointed as to how her husband reacted to the threat, but that he wouldn’t even acknowledge his wrongdoing. Her frustration is exacerbated by his dishonesty even about cell phone conversations he has during the trip.

We often hear the cliché’ phrases like Oscar-worthy or Oscar-caliber performances. I’ll simply say Julia Louis-Dreyfus nails this role. This film does not work without her. There are also colorful characters like Charlotte (Miranda Otto), an amusing libertine that the family meets upon their arrival at the ski lodge.

Downhill is a downer when it comes to cast-diversity. Today, people of all colors ski, but that’s not reflected in this movie, earning Downhill an “F” for cast diversity.

The most valuable aspect of Downhill is, you’ll talk about it and strongly identify with this couple’s issues. Downhill is rated “R” (for language and some sexual material) and about 90 minutes in length.

Downhill is a See It!

Movie Review: The Boss

This Boss should be fired!

What goes up must come down. After a heartbreaking childhood where she is shuttled from foster home to foster home, Michelle Darnell (Melissa McCarthy) climbs to the top of the business world becoming the CEO of three Fortune 500 companies. She then crosses former colleague and lover turned bitter rival play (Peter Dinklage) who reports her for inside trading. She's convicted and does a few months in the federal pen.

The problem is that when she gets out, she realizes that she doesn't really have any friends and has to turn to her former assistant (Kristen Bell) for a place to stay. One day while attending a Girl Scout type-group event, Darnell gets an idea as to how she'll return to prominence.

This Boss should be fired for relying too heavily on jokes and not enough on story development.

Melissa McCarthy is an amazing comedic talent but it's simply not enough to put her on the screen in a few funny scenes. There had to be more thought to the story itself. A down and out mega mogul reaching rock bottom before trying to return to the top is not original and is not in itself amusing.

What makes this more disappointing is that in addition to McCarthy there are some funny people involved in this production, including Will Ferrell, comedian extraordinaire who is one of the writers and producers.

This film isn't even consistent. McCarthy's character clumsily stumbles around most of the movie, but then later she does flips and maneuvers like a master ninja warrior.

The Boss gets a C for cast diversity. Set in Chicago, its cast did not accurately represent the highly diverse population of the Windy City. I did like that small person, Peter Dinklage, was cast as McCarthy's lover turned nemesis. While the film was obviously a comedy, there were "no short jokes" and he was just another member of the troupe.

The Boss is rated R for sexual content, language, and drug use. It's an hour and 39 minutes.

This Boss gets our lowest rating: Dead on Arrival!

Movie Review: Zoolander 2


In 2001, Zoolander told the story of two unlikely models Derek Zoolander (Ben Stiller) and Hansel (Owen Wilson) who took the fashion world by storm. But it was Derek whose unique style and pouty expression mesmerized his league of followers. To show their gratitude and to give back, the two performers designed and built the "Derek Zoolander Center for Kids Who Can't Read Good And Wanna Learn To Do Other Good Stuff Too". When a disaster destroys the Center, they are disgraced and even blamed for the tragedy. This humiliation leads them to disband and find their own individual forms of seclusion.

Zoolander 2 picks up 15 years later with Derek and Hansel coming out of isolation and determined to reclaim their mega careers and overcome the lingering effects of their pasts.

Back in '01, the first edition of Zoolander performed poorly at the box office. But it developed a following once it was released on DVD, resulting in this sequel. I didn't see that film. But round two of this story deserves a similar box office fate. This movie is awful. The dialogue is loaded with silliness – not funniness. Writing good humor is an art and these writers assume that anything these offbeat characters blurt out will be comical. Additionally, the story is disjointed.

At some points, it's even painful to watch.

Zoolander 2 also wastes the talent of seasoned performers. In addition to Stiller and Wilson, there's Will Ferrell, Penelope Cruz, Kristen Wiig, Fred Armisen, Kiefer Sutherland and a short appearance by Justin Bieber and an even shorter one by MC Hammer. Kiefer Sutherland who has a small but recurring role is actually the funniest. There is a problem when a person on the screen infrequently outshines those who have major roles.

Let's not waste any more time on this debacle and get to our cast diversity rating, Zoolander 2, gets a D. Its diversity is as bad as the rest of the film.

It's rated PG-13 for crude and sexual content, a scene of exaggerated violence, and brief strong language. It gets our lowest rating, Dead on Arrival.

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