Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Movie Review: Land Ho!

Land Ho!
Directed by: Aaron Katz & Martha Stephens.
Written by: Aaron Katz & Martha Stephens.
Starring: Earl Lynn Nelson (Mitch), Paul Eenhoorn (Colin), Karrie Crouse (Ellen), Elizabeth McKee (Janet), Benjamin Kasulke (Honeymooner), Christina Jennings (Honeymooner), Alice Olivia Clarke (Nadine).

How many movies over the years have we seen about people going on vacation in an attempt to recapture some of the magic in their lives – to get away from their hectic life and learn to enjoy the simple things once again? In short, hundreds. It is one of the most well-trod storylines, in Hollywood, indie and even foreign films. Land Ho, from directors Aaron Katz and Martha Stephens, is the latest film to go over this ground – and it never really does anything new with it, even if it’s an enjoyable little film as it plays.

Mitch (Earl Lynn Nelson) is a loud mouthed, over confident horny old man – divorced, forced out of his surgeon job, distant from his children – he is now retired, has a lot of money, but nothing really to  do. Colin (Paul Eenhoorn) is his former brother-in-law – they were once married to sisters, but lost contact when Mitch got divorced from the one sister. Collins first wife died, and he is now separated from his second wife – after she drained him of his savings in an ill-advised business venture. He was retired, from a job at a bank, after a career in music didn’t work out, but now may have to go back to work. He goes to visit Mitch – who has an intriguing offer for him. Mitch has bought them two tickets for a vacation in Iceland – and even if Colin can sometimes find Mitch a little tiresome, he goes with him anyway.

The film is pretty clear cut in two – with the first half Mitch and Colin hanging around the hotel, meeting up with Mitch’s much younger cousin (Karrie Crouse) and her girlfriend (Elizabeth McKee) – and tagging along with them on a night out partying – and feeling pretty ridiculous doing so, since they are decades older than anyone else out. The second half has the pair hit the road – going to see various natural wonders around Iceland – and then meeting up with another woman (Alice Olivia Clarke) – and sharing a little tenderness along the way.

The film is obvious in many, many ways – Mitch and Colin are polar opposites, with Mitch seemingly having no filter, who says horribly inappropriate things to people (including a young married couple), and pretty much every woman he meets. If he was younger, he would be creep – but because he’s older, everyone looks at him as just a funny older man. We know, eventually, the mask Mitch is putting up is going to have to fall a little bit – that were going to have to get something a little more real from him – and we do. Colin is the exact opposite – quiet, intellectual, a little embarrassed by Mitch, but also appreciative of him – after all, he’s paying for the trip and without him, Colin would simply be at home, alone and depressed.

The film has an improvised feel too much of the dialogue – as if Katz and Stephens had no more of a goal in mind for the film than to get two actors (or personalities) together, and putting them in a beautiful location to see what would happen. And the film looks beautiful – if nothing else, the film does make you want to visit Iceland as soon as possible.

The problem with Land Ho is that it is never really funny enough to make you laugh, and not really insightful enough to have anything new to add to the well-trod path the movie is taking. It’s not really a bad film – its 95 minutes that passes really pleasantly – but at the same time I just wish there was something more here.

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