Prince Avalanche

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
Prince Avalanche Movie Poster Image
Quiet character drama has some drinking, sex talk.
  • R
  • 2013
  • 94 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Spending time alone to "find yourself" sometimes means that your worst habits become more ingrained. Alvin tries to better himself by communing solo in the woods, but he doesn't start to grow until he starts to see himself through the eyes of his coworker, Lance.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Alvin and Lance are very normal guys, trying to be decent yet also quite irritating. They're forced to spend a lot of time alone together, and while they clearly aren't good friends, they do bond in a way that feels very realistic.


Two men get into a contentious argument that leads to pushing and shoving.


Men discuss sex, lust, and desire; some crude/crass references to women. One scene suggests that a man is masturbating in bed under the sheets.


Language includes "t-ts," "p---y," "screwed," and "goddamn."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A few scenes show people smoking cigarettes and cigars, as well as drinking beer and some harder liquor. Two grown men get pretty wasted and spend an afternoon alone in the woods acting quite silly. One guy talks about having a stash of prescription medication.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Prince Avalanche is an introspective look at two very real characters spending a summer alone together repairing a remote road that was damaged in a forest fire. Alvin (Paul Rudd) is arrogant and irritating, and he clearly feels superior to his partner, Lance (Emile Hirsh), whose main goal is meeting girls during his weekends in town. Expect some crude and crass talk about women and sex, a scene of implied masturbation (under sheets), some swearing ("p---y" is the worst of it), a few scenes with smoking, and one long sequence in which the main characters spend an afternoon getting sloppy drunk.

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What's the story?

Alvin (Paul Rudd) and Lance (Emile Hirsh) form a two-man work crew, spending the summer alone in the woods repairing a road damaged by forest fire. For Alvin, it's a chance to commune with nature and better himself through solitary meditation. For Lance, who's also the brother of Alvin's girlfriend, it's just a job, and he lives for the weekends, when he can go to town and try to meet girls. It's a classic odd-couple setup, and both men are portrayed as realistic characters ... who happen to be totally insufferable. Alvin is an irritating know-it-all, unaware that he rubs just about everyone the wrong way. And Lance is kind of dim, not very sophisticated, and not very considerate. They don't become friends, exactly, but they do manage to grow when they're finally able to see themselves through each other's eyes.

Is it any good?

PRINCE AVALANCHE is a quiet film; not a lot happens, and not a lot needs to happen. Alvin and Lance paint one yellow line after another on a road that seems to go on forever. They bicker, they seethe, they don't really make up. The next day they do it again. Yet they also start to grow on each other.

The audience also starts to see actual characters emerge, and the actors do a fine job of making Alvin and Lance into full-fledged human beings rather than caricatures. We don't necessarily come to like them, but, perhaps more importantly, we understand who they are. That understanding engenders sympathy for them and is what give the film its heart. The film may not be the most thrilling, but its authenticity hits the spot.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what Prince Avalanche says about friendship. Do you think Alvin and Lance are friends? How will they react to each other when the job is done and they go their separate ways?

  • How does the movie portray both sex and drinking?

  • What do you think about Alvin's relationship with his girlfriend? What are the main issues in their relationship?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love drama

Themes & Topics

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