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Sony Pictures Classics snapped up the distribution rights to Gamechanger Films’ Land Ho! a quiet amusing film about two not so grumpy old men who face their mutual “late-life” crisis together on a tour of Iceland. The men, one recently retired surgeon Mitch and his ex-brother-in-law Colin meet up after the latter’s second marriage dies.
Mitch has been forced to retire and he decides to surprise his favorite brother-in-law with an all expenses paid trip to Reykjavik, Iceland. Despite the fact that Colin is not overly keen on the idea, he goes along with his friend’s surprise plan.
This low-key feature, written and directed by Aaron Katz and Martha Stephens, does play out more like an elaborate travelogue that could have been paid for by the Reykjavik tourist board. The movie could be seen as a road film or an aging buddy film but either way, low key is the overall theme.
Mitch, the older “alpha male” of the two, would seriously drive most people mad after being in a room with him for too long. The character is one of those retired chaps who cannot stop talking. He is also very preoccupied with sex and sexual organs.
Colin, is the more sensible of the two, and more creative by nature. A former musician, he played the french horn in an orchestra when he was younger. He is quieter and less risque with his language.
When the two men first arrive in Iceland, Mitch’s young female cousin and her equally young friend, hook up with the aging duo. This cues some more low key interaction between the generations. Land Ho! is not about grumpy old men. It is more about two hopeful senior citizens who are attempting to deal with retirement and how to fill their days.
The scenery in the film is spectacular to look at. Iceland may well benefit from increased tourism just from the beautiful locations used in the movie. The cinematography is crisp, clear and lovingly presented. The country could almost be considered another cast member.
Despite the fact that the men travel quite a lot, there is no action at all. The film is dialogue heavy with an emphasis on Mitch’s devotion to marijuana and his colorful language.
Older cinema goers may really enjoy this slow moving and wordy film of optimistic senior citizens who are trying to find their way. The trip to Iceland makes no real sense. When Mitch is selling the idea to Colin, after he has already purchased the first-class tickets, his explanation is perfunctory at best and finishes with a “fact” about great looking women.
Audiences who want a bit more bang for their buck will not be over enamoured with a film that meanders slowly along and then suddenly ends with no warning. The two main actors, Earl Lynn Nelson and Paul Eenhoorn do well with their respective parts, but neither one sets the world on fire.
Eenhoorn has a long list of credits. The first of which was playing a doctor in the Australian soap Home and Away. Nelson has a much shorter list of accomplishments, but he does an adequate enough job as the instigator of this road trip.
Land Ho! is not a tale of grumpy old men but hopeful and amusing ones. When the film opened at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival it received glowing reviews. This obviously prompted Sony Pictures to distribute the low key and not very exciting story of two senior citizens on their Icelandic journey. Land Ho! opens in cinemas August 29, 2014.
By Michael Smith
AMC Town Square 18