I don’t think anyone goes into the Downton Abbey movie expecting to be changed for life or meaningfully impacted in some way. (At least, if they do, I’d kind of like to talk to them to figure out what exactly made them set those expectations for the film.) It’s been on HBO Max for the last while, and I’ve seen it there, and I always just came up with something else I’d rather watch. Downton seemed very . . . “not now” to me. Something I enjoyed for its time, but which was over.
However, Denisa was a bit more committed, and she managed to get me to agree to watch it. (Full disclosure: I had been excited to hear the film was coming, and I’d intended to see it in theaters. Life got in the way, and my enthusiasm dwindled.) Would I really enjoy returning to the characters for a feature length outing?
Yes. Yes, I would.
The film felt like the cinematic equivalent of comfort food. Better yet, comfort food that wasn’t riddled with too much soap (opera), like the show tended to do from time to time. Was the premise a bit of a stretch? Yes. “The king is coming to Downton! But the staff is going to be shoved to the side by the king’s staff.” Will they be able to find a way to serve the king anyway? Of course they will. Will it be believable? Of course it won’t. Will you care? You’re watching a Downton Abbey movie. Of course you won’t.
I thoroughly enjoyed heading back to Downton. It reminded me of all the things I liked about the show. The characters were consistent and well played again, even if the whole thing felt like one long bit of fan service. (Probably because it was, duh.) That said, I will give the show full props for managing to make the elite be both snobbish and likable. That’s a very hard feat to carry off, and I think they manage it by setting out the rules by which these people live their lives. You understand there are constraints, and then you can see that they are good people living within those constraints. It’s a great technique.
In any case, if you’re a Downton fan, you should watch this movie. If you aren’t, you’re probably safe staying away. Let’s just call it what it is: the grownup equivalent of a Pokemon movie. Watch it. Enjoy it. And then maybe go easy on your kids when they want to go watch a My Little Pony movie or something. 7/10.
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