At a time when comic book movies were steadily cranking up the Sturm und Drang, 2015’s Ant-Man served as an amiably slouching alternative, gently snarking at superheroic conventions while still staying within the Marvel mandated lines. What’s more, it was one of the rare blockbusters that actually got better as it went along, with a third act that felt like it was beginning to fully grasp the scale-shifting possibilities of its hero. All this, plus a pretty sweet joke involving The Cure, to boot.
The one moment I cherished above all others in 2004’s Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy was the newscaster rumble: a hand-to-hand fight between San Diego’s competing news teams. It brought the movie’s scattered dopiness to a fine point.
Without giving away any celebrity cameos, let’s just say that the long-awaited sequel, Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, also builds to an epic news team throw-down. This one is also hilarious, and some of the new faces are amazing indeed. The sequence even has a point: that in the world of the 24-hour news cycle, there’s way, way too much useless faux-news filling the air. In this big fight, there are so many competing teams you pretty much want them all to lose.
What makes Prince Avalanche a summer movie? Maybe it’s the aimlessness of its wandering story line, even more than the literal backdrop for the thing: two guys on a summer job sprucing up a lonely road in West Texas. A recent fire has burned the surrounding countryside, which gives the setting a pleasant, haven’t-quite-seen-this-before-in-a-movie quality.
The guys are Alvin (Paul Rudd) and Lance (Emile Hirsch), and they really don’t get on. Alvin wears a mustache of self-satisfaction, as befits a man with a secure collection of platitudes and a condescending air to match. Lance is the brother of Alvin’s girlfriend (Seattle’s own Lynn Shelton, heard only on the phone), and Alvin tries manfully to impose his standards of behavior on his younger cohort. They putter along the blasted landscape, painting new yellow lines on the road and arguing about what constitutes mature behavior.
It’s to director David Gordon Green’s credit that the eventual revelation that Alvin’s life is not as together as he’d like to think is treated not as gotcha irony but as a natural piece of confused masculine existence.