Posted by: pop-break | April 26, 2013

Film Review: Prince Avalanche

mark maurer brings a review straight from the Tribeca Film Festival …

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A lonely stretch of asphalt in the fire-ravaged wilderness gets decorated with a fresh stripe of yellow paint.

Like the pair of road workers in Prince Avalanche, filmmaker David Gordon Green knows how to add color – to a small tale based on the recent Icelandic film Either Way.

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Here, the Pineapple Express director merges two distinct realms of his filmography at once: offbeat comic energy in a gloomy setting. The crass but low-key buddy comedy has the arty flare, slim budget and character detail of his early indie breakouts George Washington and All the Real Girls.

But much of the humor is still derived from crude and awkward bits involving masturbation, sex and flatulence, even if old friend (and executive producer) Danny McBride is nowhere to be seen.

In the wake of a nasty brush fire that tore through central Texas in 1987, Alvin (Paul Rudd) and his girlfriend’s 20-something brother Lance (Emile Hirsch) plant signs and cones along roads rarely traveled.

It’s a lonely job for two men who haven’t quite figured out how to grow up. Alvin realizes he shares more flaws – and delusions – with Lance than he probably should. Alvin pretends to he’s an all-American Ron Swanson outdoorsman type, but acts as uptight as the stuffy guy who sits in a cubicle all day.

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The screenplay was roughly 60 pages, Green said at a question-and-answer session. Dialogue is sparse, so it’s really up to the leads to fill the void with charm and ad-libs. The perhaps overexposed Rudd fits the bill, and Hirsch’s lustful 1980s slacker is the most normal role he’s had in a while. They first appear dressed like the Mario brothers, clad in blue overalls and opposing reddish and green shirts. One of the few other speaking parts in the film goes to Lance LeGault as the quirky truck driver insistent on mixing beer and liquor in the same bottle. The A-Team actor died last year.

The oddities of the searing landscape are deftly captured by Tim Orr’s cinematography, such as when a skunk sniffs at a bloody tortoise shell.

Green himself has been at a crossroads. His bigger-budgeted flops Your Highness and The Sitter were half-baked, and cast doubt over his interest to pursue weightier work.

Prince Avalanche is laid-back in its own way. It’s deliberately slow and slight, and mindful of the stunted maturity these not-so-macho men face.

NOTE: Magnolia acquired the film at Sundance Film Festival in January, and it is slated for theatrical release in August.

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