Only two days in, this year's SXSW movie lineup is already top-notch. These four films are proof.


Prince Avalanche

Director: David Gordon Green
Stars: Paul Rudd, Emile Hirsch
Running time: 94 minutes
Score: 8/10

Who are we to knock David Gordon Green for indulging in his Hollywood-minded interests? Mostly abandoning everything that he'd previously established via his string of terrific independent dramas (George Washington, All the Real Girls, Snow Angels), Green took a sabbatical in Tinsel Town and made the big-budget, sporadically humorous, but ultimately rudimentary comedies Pineapple Express, Your Highness, and The Sitter. It was only a matter of time, though, before he returned to his roots, and with the first-class two-hander Prince Avalanche, Green has married both sides of his artistic mentality: his knack for raw character drama and his love for laughs. That it's a remake of a recent Icelandic film only slightly diminishes DGG's return.

The film's narrative set-up is simplicity exemplified: Two road workers (Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch) draw yellow paint lines on a Texas highway surrounded by fire-ravaged woods and trees and shoot the proverbial shit with each other. Hirsch is the young slacker who, at first, is only interested in talking about his shallow pursuits of the opposite sex; Rudd, on the other hand, is the uptight, doofy boss who also happens to be dating Hirsch's older sister.

Prince Avalanche is an endless showcase for the perfectly paired Rudd and Hirsch, two subtle performers who sell the sneaky one-liners. They're both in pristine form here, each giving his best on-screen performance to date in a quietly emotional and always just-goofy-enough melting pot of modestly screwball comedy that's definitely funnier than any of Green's earlier laugh projects.

During the post-screening Q&A, Green said that he'd love to make another pricey movie within the studio system. But if Prince Avalanche proves anything, it's that he doesn't need large amounts of loot to attract names like Paul Rudd and make them as funny as ever. And, more importantly, more effective than ever.