‘Prince Avalanche’ Movie Review – Surprisingly Thoughtful
I’ve said it once (or twice, or three times), and I’ll say it again: it all boils down to the characters and the story. David Gordon Green’s (Pineapple Express) minimalistic comedy seems to have no story (which I’ll contradict later), but the great performances and quirky friendship between the two leads (played by Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch) makes the film feel refreshing. If nothing else, the comedy is unlike most comedies you’ve seen.
Set in 1988 across a fire-wrecked Texas landscape, Prince Avalanche doesn’t seem like a tough movie to describe. It’s about two wacky guys, one named Alvin (Rudd) and the other named Lance (Hirsch), who have the painstaking job of relining the urban highway traffic lines. The two are connected in another way, too, because Alvin has an on-again-off-again relationship with Lance’s sister.
During their work “adventures” – if you want to call it that – the two develop an odd relationship between themselves and each other. The mundane task of clearing debris and painting lines becomes a weird coming-of-age-like tale that takes a more serious turn among all the silliness.
One good sign is that I can’t picture any other actors playing the two vital roles. Rudd struck me as a shoo-in before I even saw the movie, but I was curious to see Hirsch. That may contribute to why I think Hirsch is both the funnier and more dynamic performance. Both are fabulous, but Hirsch one-ups even Rudd.
The movie can be described as a coming-of-age tale (or perhaps growing-up tale), a bromance, and even a ghost story. I like the idea of the ghost story because one of the main themes is that “love is a ghost.” When this theme comes to a more literal fruition, the real story emerges. Nothing seems to be happening for the duration of the movie – there’s plenty of talking and not a whole lot of substance. However, a deeper realization does eventually occur. For a movie that seems plotless, this subtle climax hits you like a sack of potatoes.
Quirky, awkward, and weird are terms easily thrown around with plenty of comedies. However, peculiar may be the best way to describe David Gordon Green’s Prince Avalanche. Easily comparable to a “bottle episode” in your favorite TV series, the movie appears to have been shot in just a few days (16 to be exact) in a few locations. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, though, because the movie achieves what it probably set out to achieve. Whether that be this idea that “love is a ghost,” friendship keeps you going, or never give up, I’d argue it’s all relevant. Rudd and Hirsch nail their performances to make this a surprisingly thoughtful film about seemingly thoughtless characters.
Prince Avalanche is available On Demand and in limited theaters starting today. Check it out if you get the opportunity.
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