They say opposites attract, but when two
brothers living polar (but equally messed up) lives reunite for their
mother’s wedding in the mountain town where they grew up, the friction
Topher (Tyler Labine) is a
bearded man-child – still living in his hometown (Revelstoke, B.C.) –
and a failed DJ who deals weed for a living. He’s the kind of guy who,
when presented with his girlfriend’s positive pregnancy test,
immediately offers to drive her to the abortion clinic – and feels
magnanimous for making such a proposal.
Cooper (Chace Crawford) is a smart, slick
big-city guy – a New Yorker with a successful career and a girlfriend
who rates, on a scale of one to 10, as a 12.
It’s hard to imagine this ridiculously handsome specimen in black sharing any DNA with his schlubby, small town older brother.
they do, Coop notes, both carry a gene that seems to have messed up all
the men in the family. In addition to the brothers’ troubles, there is
their dead (or is he?) father, lurking (at least metaphorically) in the
background. A paranoid recluse, their dad moved long ago to the family’s
remote mountain cabin. But he has disappeared – gone so long that he is
legally being declared deceased. Toph was around to witness his demise;
Coop was not.
In fact, even now Coop
can only handle a couple of days back home – and has already booked a
flight out to his next urban adventure.
he’s around, Toph, desperate for attention and approval from his more
successful and worldly brother, has organized a trip for the two of them
to the cabin, ostensibly to check out reports of a squatter inhabiting
the place. But it’s clear that what he’s really looking for is some
What they get
instead is a frigid mountain challenge, worthy of the survival shows
Coop likes to watch from the safety of the Big Apple. But when it comes
to real-life survival in the mountains, it’s the boys’ dad who will come
to their rescue – in the form of a survival manual he prepared, which
surfaces in the rustic wooden cabin. His sons are going to need it.
These mountain scenes are gripping, bringing a surprising thriller element to what starts off as a light-hearted buddy flick.
But it’s the performances that carry the film: Crawford (best known for his role as Nate Archibald on Gossip Girl)
is far more than a pretty face, offering a nuanced portrayal of a
together-on-the-outside, tortured-on-the-inside man off his meds.
Labine – whose physical characteristics and comedic skills attract
inevitable comparisons to Zach Galifianakis and Jack Black – delivers
much more than a string of one-liners (hilarious though they often are).
Written and directed by Cameron Labine – Tyler’s real-life brother – Mountain Men
delivers big heart, some big laughs and authentic character development
observed through sharp, but always natural, dialogue. This film, which
covers well-trodden territory, could have easily turned into an overly
sentimental cliché-fest (the trailer suggests that it might) but it
really never does – right down to a surprising, emotional cave-set
reconciliation scene toward the film’s end.
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