Director David Gordon Green has two sides to him. There’s the melancholy side he showed us in All the Real Girls, full of long, quiet takes and poignant, reticent heartbreak, and then there’s the wild and crazy side he showed us in Pineapple Express, full of bitingly ridiculous slapstick and excellent weed jokes. His latest effort, 2013’s Prince Avalanche, strives to combine these two sides, but in the end it’s sadder than it is silly.
The story concerns Alvin (Paul Rudd), an overly serious road worker, and Lance (Emile Hirsch), a hard-partying kid who just happens to be the brother of Alvin’s girlfriend Madison. The film takes place in 1988, just after a massive forest fire has wrecked most of the markings on a seemingly endless stretch of remote country road. Alvin has hooked Lance up with a job, and now the two of them are spending their summer out in the middle of nowhere, pitching posts and painting lines by day and sleeping in a little pup tent by night. The two guys often drive each other crazy with their drastically different attitudes, leading to Napoleon Dynamite-style verbal face-offs and Will Ferrell/John C. Reilly-esque slap fights. But despite the comedy present in the script, the movie is pitched at a very, very serious tone. Alvin is a really troubled guy, and it becomes increasingly clear that, despite all of his grand statements about self-reliance and his tendency to write his girlfriend epic, passionate love letters, his need to be far away from her and the rest of the real world is pathological.
Technically, the film is a comedy/drama, but the overall vibe of Prince Avalanche is elegiac and reflective. However much humor might have appeared on the page for Rudd and Hirsch to work with, even their funniest moments are orchestrated with mumblecore-like cinema verite handycam and a somber, earnest soundtrack; expect lots of acoustic indie folk played over long takes of people walking through a charred forest. At one point, Alvin talks to a woman as she sifts through the ashes that were once her house. It’s exactly as tragic as it sounds. If you were a big fan of All the Real Girls, then this probably sounds like a description of Green doing what he does best. But if you’re hoping for another Pineapple Express or The Sitter, Prince Avalanche probably doesn’t have what you’re looking for.
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- Released: 2013
- Rating: R
- Review: Director David Gordon Green has two sides to him. There’s the melancholy side he showed us in All the Real Girls, full of long, quiet takes and poignant, reticent heartbreak, and then there’s the wild and crazy side he showed us in Pineapple Express, full… (more)