PLOT: Two males, one of them a guy (Hirsch), the other a man (Rudd), work on a Texas highway in the summer. Unknowingly bonded by their own ignorance, they are detached from a civilization that includes girls, wives, and general familial responsibility.
WHO'S IT FOR? Fans of David Gordon Green who were confused about Your Highness, rejoice.
While making feature films is hard (regardless of a tiny crew), with the notion of making a comedy is even more arduous, Prince Avalanche is a movie that never feels like it was over-thought. This is a film composed with natural talent that simply comes together.
The chemistry between Hirsch and Rudd is one that could easily be played even louder in a bigger movie, but part of the excitement of Prince Avalanche is that such a doofy duet isn't used for a buddy cop comedy, or a Raja Gosnell-directed tale of feuding neighbors with a talking animal or two. Prince Avalanche gets many a laugh out of its constant clashes between the two, as they think the other is wrong about what the essence of man is. As this movie shows with a consistently gentle touch, both of them, even the one who claims to be wiser, are kind of wrong.
Bringing back old comparisons to Jack Black, Hirsch certainly has the sensitive sassiness of a young Black character, especially when he tries to toughly express his boyish angst towards anything that he thinks is lame. While he is able to play an intentionally annoying character without the actual peskiness, Hirsch's best moments are when his character is allowed the opportunity to be storyteller. His exaggerations about stories, protective with select details, are the finest remarks this movie makes about immaturity.
Hirsch's character is matched with wonderful oppose with Rudd's lame dad of a character, who speaks pretentiously under a thick mustache goofy bits of serious wisdom like "I reap the rewards of solitude." With Rudd especially working at a top level, he shows his ability to be recognizable for his Rudd-ness (available in his romance roles especially) but can spice up his characters with depth to make them slightly different from each other. In Admission, Dinner for Schmucks, even Over Her Dead Body, he's cheese pizza. In Prince Avalanche, he's dabbed a small but distinct flavor to this genius metaphor, providing Prince Avalanche with a rich character whose pain feels very real in this movie's sweeter moments.
Endowed with magic hour cinematography and a nylon guitar score from Explosions in the Sky, Prince Avalanche is not just an atmospheric low-budget dry comedy with two Hollywood stars making very silly jokes, but a beautiful one. Even shots of pavement lines whirring together on a traveled road hold their own hypnotic aesthetic worth. Despite as how they may sound, these moments are too selfless to be pretentious, their existence taken with the same seriousness as anything else in this free-spirited feature film.
Blanketed with a genuine attitude, neither its comedic or dramatic elements showing a hint of desperation, Prince Avalanche can move between the two, providing each harping of genre with the same successful effect. Even when the odd couple are experimenting with characteristics that border on possibly being too ridiculous, Prince Avalanche remains true. The same can be said for an unexpected scene involving a non-actor, a house, and Rudd, which reportedly brought the actor to actual tears.
Especially in the scope of Green's previous' direction, helming juvenile odysseys like Your Highness and then The Sitter, Prince Avalanche is a special little movie. But it's in the even wider scope of contemporary American comedy that Prince Avalanche gains a distinction. We've seen some successful mainstream comedies with good acting amongst the conventions (The Heat, for example), but plenty of other comedies let their junkiness get in the way of any type of good intention, tripping over their excess.
As devoted camper Green leaves big budgets but maintains a heart for silliness as he returns to the woods, he and his collaborators freewheel with giddiness through this little movie. Together, they find that perhaps there's something to be said about keeping things simple.
FINAL SCORE: 8/10