The Mountain Between Us

… and, of course, the one we’re stranded atop.

T he good news: you’re stuck on the other side of nowhere with either Kate Winslet or Idris Elba. The bad news: this is how you’re going to die. Pleased yet? No, it’s not exactly a last week with John Malkovich, but maybe it will suffice. At least you have a 12-hour supply of delicious honey roasted peanuts.

Future bride Alex Martin (Winslet) and neurosurgeon Ben Bass (Elba) need to be not in Idaho, stat! But the airport situation in whatever tiny town we’re calling this is similar to the one in Planes, Trains & Automobiles. Luckily for them, Beau Bridges has a private plane and a taste for instant cash. Unluckily for them, Beau Bridges has a stroke at exactly the wrong time, and within minutes, this film goes from the opening scenes of Planes, Trains & Automobiles to the opening scenes of Indiana Jones and Temple of Doom (specifically the one where the pilotless plane takes on a mountain … hint: bet on the mountain).  Beau no!  Somehow, the two non-Beau humans and Beau’s dog all land relatively intact. The plane … less. While the three are physically alive, they are now stranded atop the Rockies with inadequate shelter and provisions.

They always get out of the plane. Why do they always get out of the plane? This film was smarter than most plane crash films. It explained that they stayed in the plane, waited a bunch (especially as Alex landed with a bum leg), and described how unreasonable it was to stay in the plane, but, let me assure you, leaving the scene of a plane crash is never a good idea if you wish to be rescued.

Editorial aside, Alex and Ben are literally on top of a mountain with no sign of humans as far as the eye can see. Then a cougar shows up. Of course it does. And when I say “cougar,” I mean the predatory North American big cat, not a predatory older woman (like Winslet in The Reader). Cougar, aka “Panther,” aka “Puma,” aka “Mountain Lion,” aka “Land Orca,” aka “Ground Falcon,” aka “Solid Bromine.” Well, you got a bum leg, no cover, and contents of a puddle jumper. How would you fend off a land orca?

The Mountain Between Us is a “what’s worse, your partner or your situation?” film. The answer is the situation, of course. Only the title suggests a distance from Alex to Ben. Honestly, the two met over common inconvenience. To encounter a situation where you would prefer death to company, I think you have to know the person long enough to discover they kick the chair in front of them, fail to bring the seat to a full and upright position, or simply remain talking on a cell phone when the indicator depicts it’s time to stow that shit and shut the Hell up. Yeah, when that person wants to ration the honey roasted peanuts I’m happy to take on the mountain by myself.

This is neither the best nor the worst survival film. Even among actual survivalist cults, it yields both things to love and things to hate. I suppose I enjoy Kate Winslet (or Idris Elba) a great deal more than I don’t enjoy Kate Winslet (or Idris Elba), but that doesn’t mean I want to go camping with her anytime soon. Your results may vary.

♪Well I don’t know why we crashed on this flight
I’ve got no feeling in my leg on the right
I’m so scared my locale I don’t know where
And I’m wondering if we’ll encounter a bear

Peaks to the left of me, slush to the right
Here I am, stuck in the Rockies with you♫

Rated PG-13, 103 Minutes
Director: Hany Abu-Assad
Writer: Chris Weitz
Genre: Man v. Woman v. Elements
Type of being most likely to enjoy this film: Those of us still patiently waiting for Idris Elba to make some likeable films
Type of being least likely to enjoy this film: Cougars

♪ Parody Inspired by “Stuck in the Middle With You”

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