Monday, March 4, 2019

Film Review: Mountain Men

There are a lot of outdoor films on Netflix these days. Some are good and some are bad, but most of them are just, mediocre. This seems to be a trend in outdoor narrative films. There seems to be a belief that if you throw a few people into the outdoors and give them a challenge, that the result will be a gripping film. But, it just doesn't work that way.

This is the issue with Mountain Men, a 2014 film written and directed by Cameron Labine. The dramady/survival story never really finds its tone or pace. It's watchable enough, but ultimately a bit...forgettable.

The movie tells the story of two brothers that have not spoken to one another for several years.  Cooper (Chase Crawford) returns home from New York City to the Canadian mountain town of Revelstoke for his mother's wedding. Toph (Tyler Labine), Cooper's offbeat brother has just discovered that his girlfriend is pregnant. He wants to reconnect with his brother by spending time at a remote cabin with him. The film uses a couple of comic devices to lead the pair out of their comfortable family story and into a fight-for-survival story.

Over the course of the film we see the pair make several significant mistakes as they try to escape from the backcountry. Each of these increases their peril, while simultaneously taking us away from the comic elements that started their journey.

The overall structure of the film works. Two flawed individuals who don't know one another anymore have to come together to survive an ordeal. They each learn something about themselves and about each other along the way. They become tighter and more understanding of one another. The problem is that the comic elements within the script kept me from believing that they were really in danger. I never once thought that one of the brother's would not make it back.

If you're on track to watch all of the outdoor adventure movies that Netflix offers, then this is far from the worst offering. You'll laugh a little bit, and you'll be critical of some of the character choices. You'll root for the brothers' relationship, and it'll pass the time...

...But then you'll be onto the next one. Never to think of Mountain Men again...

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