Friday, August 15, 2014
While it hasn't been too hot a summer around most of the U.S., a bracing dose of clean, icy winds might still do you some good. The Icelandic road comedy Land Ho! is just the kind of small indie ready to usher them in. In just about every way, it is the antithesis of the majority of films currently playing in theaters. It stars two relative unknowns, Earl Lynn Nelson and Paul Eenhoorn as Mitch and Colin, two ex-brothers-in-law on a journey through Iceland's beautifully austere countryside. That's it. No explosions. No chase scenes. No sexual situations... save for Mitch's incredibly raunchy jokes.
The bored Mitch ropes Colin into coming along on his adventure after being forced into an early retirement. The Australian Colin is the more even-tempered and dignified of the two travelers. The more volatile of the men, Mitch is a Kentuckian who never sees a landmark that doesn't remind him of sex. On their way to a lighthouse Mitch tells Colin lighthouses remind him of a "hard cock." I won't ruin Mitch's description of a geyser for you. In the midst of all the humor we slowly build an impression of each of these quirky characters and how they're each coping with their advancing age. What one realizes early on is that about the only thing these seniors have in common is that they both fear death. Mitch runs away from it by constantly chasing after diversions we associate with youth, flirting with women more than half his age or getting stoned. Colin sleepwalks through life with a kind of resignation, having all but given up on the notion that life has any further surprises in store.
I like genre blockbusters as much as anyone, but they do get numbing in their repetition. Land Ho! never gets over-sentimental nor does it indulge in the kind of slapstick humor one would see in a geezer comedy like Grumpy Old Men. Instead, the exploration of Iceland's solitary alien landscape serves as an apt metaphor for our inquest into the inner life of these forever young old-timers. Crisply shot on digital, Land Ho! possesses an immediacy that grants moviegoers a fly-on-the-wall perspective on this lush odyssey through one of the most gorgeous and remote countries in the world. And we get two immensely entertaining guides who are just clueless enough to make the jaunt a little more exciting. If you want a refreshing antidote to the usual shallow CGI spectacles currently populating multiplexes, then Land Ho! is the way to go.