Monday, August 25, 2014

LAND HO! (2014)

Written & Directed by Martha Stephens & Aaron Katz


Where & When: Sundance Sunset Theaters, West Hollywood, CA. August 5, 2014 1:45PM



Maintaining a friendship is hard. Growing old is even harder. "Land Ho!" is a senior buddy, road-trip picture that takes a delightful journey through Iceland as two men decide to reignite their mundane lives at a time when they've feeling increasingly invisible in society. Lead by two sensational performances by Dr. Earl Lynn Nelson and Paul Eenhoorn, not much really happens as the film is filled mostly with intimate, very funny and somewhat strange conversations which makes this little film even more impressive. "Land Ho!" is the first film by the team of Martha Stephens and Aaron Katz, both experienced indie filmmakers individually that have done well with their previous works on the festival circuit. Together, they build on their strengths to make a fresh, unpredictable and completely first-rate comedy.

Mitch (Nelson),a currently divorced, recently retired doctor calls on his former brother-in-law, Colin (Eenhoorn), also now divorced, to catch up on old times. It wouldn't seem like these two guys would share much in common as Mitch is boisterous and crass while the Australian Colin is reserved and highly composed. Yet there is some kind of connection although they bicker and make each other crazy much like, I'm quite sure, their former spouses. On a whim, Mitch invites his friend to join him on a trip to Iceland and travel through the country. Colin tries to decline the generous offer but Mitch is a man that doesn't take no for an answer.

After arriving in Reykjavík, the men have very different ideas on how they want to spend their vacation. Colin plans to relax and catch up on some books while Mitch wants to party, meet some women and have a true adventure. Mitch's niece (Karrie Crouse) and her friend, Janet (Elizabeth McKee) just happen to be passing through Reykjavík and plan to spend the day with the fellas. Mitch thinks his plans for a wild party will begin with the arrival of the young women and although Janet does manage to get sloppy drunk, the evening is pretty mild filled with mostly more conversation.

As these golden boys continue their scenic trip through this beautiful country, more bickering ensues but soon these guys begin to really connect. Mitch and Colin actually share their feelings and fears in a way that only men can understand.

With an unobtrusive shooting style, unflashy editing and the actors seemingly not to be performing, "Land Ho!" feels very much like eavesdropping which should appeal to some viewers in this age of reality programming.  "Land Ho!" breaks out of the routine Hollywood buddy comedy and offers an unfussy alternative spin. In between the laughs, there are wistful and poignant moments that take you by surprise.