Blu-ray Review: “Prince Avalanche” Is Fascinating To Look At But Slow As Molasses

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Review by James McDonald

Two highway road workers spend the summer of 1988 away from their city lives. The isolated landscape becomes a place of misadventure as the men find themselves at odds with each other and the women they left behind.

In “Prince Avalanche”, two highway road workers spend the summer of 1988 away from their city lives. The isolated landscape becomes a place of misadventure as the men find themselves at odds with each other and the women they left behind. Director David Gordon Green started out making low-budget acclaimed independent movies such as “George Washington”, “Undertow” and “Snow Angels.” In 2008, he broke out of that cycle when he directed “Pineapple Express”, followed by “Your Highness” and then “The Sitter.” None of these movies set the box office on fire so Mr. Green went back to his indie roots with “Prince Avalanche.” A lot of times, you hear about a new independent movie that is supposed to be absolutely fantastic and that it’s artistic merits are setting precedents everywhere. That’s what I had heard about “Prince Avalanche” but after watching the movie, I checked the internet to see if there was another movie with the same title and unfortunately, there was not.

I have no problem when a movie is minimalist with its characters and settings. I loved the movie “Castaway” with Tom Hanks. As long as the story and the performances move the film along, then I’m happy. Mr. Hanks has such screen presence that I was able to spend over two hours with him and buy absolutely everything that happens to his character. In “Prince Avalanche”, Alvin (Paul Rudd) and Lance (Emile Hirsch) are two road workers that are out in the middle of nowhere, Texas, painting the stripes in the middle of the road. Alvin is dating Lance’s unseen sister Madison, and she asks him if he will give Lance a summer job and let him work on the road with him. He obliges and we soon find out that they are polar opposites and quickly get on each other’s nerves. Alvin expects from Lance, a more practical, straightforward relationship, while Lance expects to just coast through life, bedding any woman who will say yes to him.

The film is about handling constraints, whether environmental or intimate, and enjoying your present-day existence and letting it unfold as it will. Even as Alvin and Lance quarrel and argue back-and-forth, we still get the impression they appreciate the company of others and would actually detest doing this job alone. I was actually delighted to see Mr. Rudd not play Mr. Rudd for once as he always seems to play himself in every other movie but here, he gives a very nuanced and understated performance while Mr. Hirsch, an effectively recessive actor, approaches his role with admirable restraint. What really bogged this movie down for me though, was the desperately slow pacing. The movie is only 90 minutes long but it feels like a three hour epic. At one point we see a long shot of a turtle making its way across the road and for me, this one shot sums up the entire movie: fascinating to look at but slow as molasses moving uphill. Recommended.

In stores November 12th

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James McDonald

Film/Theater Critic & Interviewer at Red Carpet Crash
Originally from Dublin, Ireland, James is a Movie Critic and Celebrity Interviewer with over 30 years of experience in the film industry as an Award-Winning Filmmaker.
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