Starring Tyler Labine. Rated 14A.
“Men in our family carry a fuck-up gene,” Coop tells his brother Toph in Mountain Men, but it’s hard to decide who’s more fucked-up.
On the surface, Toph, played with hoserlike gusto by Tyler Labine, would seem to be the clan’s biggest loser: a low-level weed dealer and part-time DJ who’s just impregnated his girlfriend and has never escaped Revelstoke. But Coop (Chace Crawford), back from New York City for his mother’s wedding, has a lot of slow-burning torment behind his seemingly perfect career.
That’s this little B.C.–shot film’s biggest success: knowing that fucked-up comes in many complicated flavours, with multiple shades of denial and resentment.
Writer-director Cameron Labine carefully juggles the comedy and drama here, as the brothers learn some big life lessons in their first reunion in three years. Right after the wedding, they decide to head up to their late father’s remote mountain cabin to shoo out a squatter. Somewhat predictably, the trip goes horribly awry.
Suffice it to say a chance finding of their half-crazed father’s survival manual, an injury, and a fire put them into do-or-die mode—though the laughs keep coming. Yes, Toph will have to learn responsibility and uptight Coop will have to open up about his problems.
Tyler Labine carries a lot of the film against his straight man Crawford, like the grizzled spawn of Seth Rogen and Jack Black—a jovial head in parkas and earflap toques. The Revelstoke scenery is the third big character, though its wintry crags and snowbanks could have been treated a little more sinisterly here.
The film is talky, and director Cameron (brother to Tyler) plays it perhaps a little too gentle. But he gets at real questions about masculinity, family, and home—the uncensored way siblings talk to each other, the subtle ways a father’s death can eat away at his sons, and how a small town can hold you back or haunt you when you leave it.
Also: the inadvisability of eating pot cookies in the wilderness.