REVIEW: Prince Avalanche

25 08 2013

In the middle of the madness of David Gordon Green’s “Pineapple Express,” there’s a very bizarre and quirky 40-second montage that feels completely out of place.  Though I first saw that film as an unformed, relatively cinematically illiterate fifteen-year-old, I recognized there was something brilliant in the scene.  I didn’t know the director’s name, but I knew he had some artistic talent that was subversively bursting through the seams of this comedy.

Green’s latest film, “Prince Avalanche,” takes all the formalism present in that tiny “Pineapple Express” montage and make an entire film out of it.  The movie attempts to be both absurd and also rather aesthetically pleasing, succeeding far more at the latter than the former.  I will give Green that he can craft a good montage with editor Colin Patton and compose a good shot with director of photography Tim Orr.

But that’s about where my compliments for “Prince Avalanche” stop.  The script is dead on arrival, maintaining my interest for about as long as the aforementioned sequence in “Pineapple Express.”  It centers on two road crew workers, Paul Rudd’s Alvin and his girlfriend’s brother Lance, played by Emile Hirsch.  (I suppose I could pay the film another compliment and say it features the best Hirsch performance since “Milk,” but that’s not saying much.)

Alvin and Lance play out inane dramas on the road while staving off boredom or the problems that actually plague their existences.  To be honest, I couldn’t tell if Rudd or Hirsch cared about the conflicts of “Prince Avalanche.”  And if they didn’t care, why should we?  A few pretty shots of burnt back roads in Texas and a few quirks do not a good film make.  There are ways to make humdrum existence resonate; Green’s film really just generates yawns. C-1halfstars

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