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Marina Antunes [Celluloid 12.08.14] Canada thriller drama

If you need proof that everyone is entitled to a second chance, at least in the world of movie making, you need took no further than Cameron Labine. I hated, and I mean despised, Labine's Control Alt Delete a few years ago (I know the idea of a guy who, quite literally has sex with his computer, might sound like fun, but let me assure you, it is anything but) but the concept of his follow-up feature, also starting his famous and generally very funny brother, Tyler Labine, sounded too good to pass up.

Mountain Men stars Labine as Toph, one half of an estranged duo of brothers who still lives in the small town the family has long called home. Chace Crawford, of "Gossip Girl" fame, is Cooper, the other brother. The younger brother who escaped small town living for the big city and who, over the years, has made a life for himself working and living in large metropoli, drawing himself further away from his roots, only occasionally slipping home to visit the family for special occasions.

This time he's in town for his mother's wedding but big brother Toph has additional plans and he convinces Cooper to accompany him to spend the rest of the weekend trekking to their late father's cabin to scare off a squatter. The pair arrive, hilarity ensues and the next thing you know the brothers are traversing through the wilderness on foot so that Cooper can make his flight.

What begins as a light and airy dramedy about two brothers reluctantly bonding in the wilderness, goes into full out survival thriller mode when disaster strikes. Out of the woodwork emerges not only an interesting story of brotherly bonding but also a movie that brilliantly mixes comedy and drama in unexpected ways. There's plenty of man vs. nature but Mountain Men is particularly memorable for its mix of comedy and drama. Writer/director Cameron Labine manages the balance of the script exceptionally well and he has a great cast that brings it all together.

Unsurprisingly, Tyler Labine is perfectly cast as the somewhat dumb but likeable older brother who brings much of the comedic relief. It's a role Labine is familiar with and one he plays to great effect here and in general. The surprise is Crawford who emerges as more than just a pretty face with a couple of emotionally resonant scenes that really work, not to mention a great straight man to Labine's antics.

Mountain Men could easily have lost its way by broadening the comedy or playing the drama with a heavy hand but the movie is perfectly balanced, never falling too far in either direction. The result is a hugely enjoyable drama that challenges expectations and works as both an affecting family drama, a tale of personal discovery as well as an effective thriller which doesn't skimp on laughs.

Well worth a look.

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