- on Friday, 15 August 2014 16:27
- by Frank Wilkins
Iceland finally gets a road trip movie with Land Ho!, a pleasant little tale about two lonely septuagenarians searching for happiness in new places. With their heartwarming film, makers Aaron Katz and Martha Stephens also explore new territory by turning the genre on its head with an atypical cast and unexpected setting.
The genre typically features rambunctious twenty-somethings dealing with alcohol-fueled phases of self-discovery while criss-crossing the country, but in Land Ho! the characters are neither young, nor does the setting resemble anything close to Vegas. And that’s part of what makes the film so surprisingly endearing.
Former brothers-in-law Mitch (Earl Lynn Nelson) and Colin (Paul Eenhoorn) are looking to reconnect after having drifted apart since Mitch and his wife divorced and Colin’s wife died - they married sisters. When Mitch, the more boisterous of the two, surprises reluctant Colin with a first-class trip to Iceland, the two are thrust head-on to face aging, loneliness, and disenchantment together while we tag along for the ride.
The old codgers fly into Reykjavik where they rent an SUV and head out into the gorgeously rugged Icelandic countryside dotted with spitting geysers, snow-capped peaks, bubbling hot springs, and many other scenes of rustic beauty.
Almost to a detriment though, Iceland itself becomes a prominent character, co-starring right alongside Eenhoorn and Nelson. As the scenic beauty begins to take the lead, the story often becomes more about where Mich and Colin are, and less about what’s going on. But that’s OK because not much happens anyway. Mitch and Colin become such warm, endearing characters, we settle in with being satisfied by simply watching them fling about the odd-couple chitchat.
Nelson is particularly lovable as his unapologetically foul-mouthed and borderline misogynistic banter comes off as more charming than “dirty old man” and plays nicely against Colin’s buttoned-down Australian demeanor. I’d pay to listen to him narrate an informational documentary on the pros and cons of foreign currency manipulation and value-added taxes. Like a Wilford Brimley in his prime, he’s that charming.
An impromptu meet-up with Mitch’s much-younger cousin Ellen (Karrie Krouse) and her best friend Janet (Elizabeth McKee), who are also vacationing in the country, is about the most excitement we’ll get as the foursome hits the town at one of Reykjavik’s hottest night clubs. The girls put up with Mitch’s out-dated fashion advice while the two old men are forced to sip glow-stick-laced cocktails as the rhythmic beats of house music renders them virtually deaf.
Most of the film’s remainder consists of pointless talk and aimless meanderings broken by Mitch’s occasional vulgarities and Colin’s incessant sadness. We learn that Mitch was recently forced to retire and that Colin still hasn’t quite healed from his wife’s passing, but the film’s simplicity and easy-going vibe more than make up for its failure to take on any deeper topics.
Land Ho! proves that simple human contact and nature’s stunning beauty often do more to entertain an audience than even the best of Hollywood’s whiz-bang technology.
MPAA Rating: R for some language, sexual references and drug use
Runtime: 95 mins
Director: Aaron Katz, Martha Stephens
Writer: Aaron Katz, Martha Stephens
Cast: Earl Lynn Nelson, Paul Eenhoorn, Daníel Gylfason
Genre: Adventure | Comedy
Tagline: Come party with these guys!.
Memorable Movie Quote: "He's diggin' like he's got goats in his garden!"
Distributor: Gamechanger Films
Official Site: http://www.sonyclassics.com/landho/
Release Date: August 15, 2014
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date: November 4, 2014.
Synopsis: A pair of 60-something ex-brothers-in-law sets off on a road trip through Iceland, hoping to reclaim their youth. Their picturesque adventures, from trendy Reykjavík to the rugged outback, are a throwback to classic bawdy road comedies as well as a candid exploration of aging, loneliness, and friendship..
Available on Blu-ray - November 4, 2014
Screen Formats: 1.78:1
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish
Audio: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; French: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Two-disc set (1 BD, 1 DVD); DVD copy
Region Encoding: A
Sony Pictures Classics presents Land Ho! on blu-ray with a 1080p High Definition transfer in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio. The transfer is excellent and does justice to the lovely cinematography with rich details and bold colors. Flesh tones are accurate and black levels are strong throughout. The audio track is 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, and it’s a solid effort, with crystal clear dialogue despite some of the difficult sound recording situations. There are options for an English audio description track, and French and Spanish dubbing.
There is an amusing feature-length commentary with Paul Eenhoorn, Earl Lynn Nelson, Martha Stephens, and Aaron Katz because the actors are their characters and listening to them banter back and forth is a hoot and a half. One interesting tidbit from the commentary is learning that the film, though mainly shot with two Red One cameras, also featured sequences shot with a DSLR camera.
There aren’t a lot but does there need to be from this independent release? The two featurettes included are deleted scenes – featuring an extended nightclub sequence, more “balls” and a ghost job – and a clip from the Los Angeles Film Festival Q&A w/ Earl Lynn Nelson, Paul Eenhoorn, Martha Stephens, Aaron Katz, and Elizabeth McKee. The filmmakers and actors talk about shooting in Iceland for a huge portion of the Q&A, but the most memorable part of the session had nothing to do with filmmaking. Earl Lynn Nelson, who refreshingly doesn’t hold back his thoughts, told the audience that, even at 72, he’s still a vital man, humorously adding that his “stinger” is still working. A DVD copy is included in the Blu-ray package.
- Deleted Scenes (13 min)
- Los Angeles Film Festival Q&A (13 min)