Land Ho! (2014) / Comedy-Drama
MPAA Rated: R for some language, sexual references and drug use
Running Time: 95 min.
Cast: Earl Lynn Nelson, Paul Eenhoorn, Karrie Crouse, Elizabeth McKee, Alice Olivia Clarke
Director: Aaron Katz, Martha Stephens
Screenplay: Aaron Katz, Martha Stephens
Review published August 5, 2014
Independent fimmakers Aaron Katz (Cole Weather, Quiet City) and Martha Stephens (Passenger Pigeons, Pilgrim Song) collaborate to write and direct this slight but amiable comedy (with dramatic bits) about two retired ex-brothers-in-law, gregarious (and filter-less) American, Mitch (Nelson), and the more reserved and prudent Aussie, Colin (Eenhoorn, This is Martin Bonner), who decide to take a trip to Iceland and "get their groove back."
It's a simple story with a simple premise. It's not a contrived "grumpy old men" comedy, though they certainly qualify. While the two are a bit of an odd couple, it's not that either. Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon they ain't, though they easily could have been if this were a Hollywood project. Instead, it's a mostly believable romp with characters we almost instantly like, and enjoyable to watch their minor triumphs and foibles unfold as these men try to find happiness in life when most of their life is behind them.
You will get to see the beauty and majesty that is Iceland, except through the eyes of two longtime friends enjoying one last hurrah -- or, more likely, the first of many last hurrahs. They meet young ladies, they check out natural geysers, they hike rocky crags, and they enjoy a drink and a smoke or two. But mostly, they enjoy each other's company, as they both try to lift up each other's spirits in a time when they have little to do but think about things they may wish they could still be doing. It never plays out nearly as contrived as you'd think, and doesn't go for the cheap laughs. Instead, the scope is plausible and almost documentary-like, feeling like we truly are watching two friends find some undiscovered enjoyment in their twilight years.
Land Ho! is may be too light and inconsequential for those who expect a bit of gravitas in their movies, but when you're dealing with good company on a trip to a gorgeous and remote destination, it's enjoyable to just relax and enjoy as a slice of life reflection on looking forward to one's golden years, and not looking back.
©2014 Vince Leo