There are a few movies that make it out the 2014 LA Film Festivals that I can truly say I enjoyed watching, films like: Young Kieslowski, A Man From Reno, and Los Angeles to name a few. By the same account, Land Ho!, Sony Pictures Classic newest release, is an uplifting and inspirational movie that keeps you laughing all the way from start to finish. The combined skills of co-writers/directors Martha Stephens and Aaron Katz is very loose, yet bright and cheerful. As you notice the layers of the characters unfolding, so does the cinematography, which truly takes on a life of it’s own..
Mitch [Earl Lyn Nelson], is a doctor that is forced into retirement, even though he doesn’t feel nearly his age,. Mitch plans an extravagant impromptu trip to Iceland and he invites, Colin [Paul Eenhoorn], his estranged brother in-law and dear friend , who is recently separated from his second wife and dealing with a failed business venture, on a first class, all expenses paid trip to Iceland. Even though the men are only a few years apart, it seems as though there are generations of difference in their personalities. Mitch’s party animal, sex crazed, pot smoking lifestyle is a complete contradiction to Colin’s deep thinking, romantic and very cautious way of life. But they seem to balance out to a perfect pair.
During this trek across some of the most beautiful scenery, Land Ho! starts to dissect each of the personalities and you see why both are stuck in the emotional states they are in. You see why Mitch is a pot smoking, foul mouth, sexual minded party animal in his seventies and why Colin is an overly cautious, shy, introvert that won’t risk anything for a chance at happiness. When they reach each destination that Mitch has planned out well in advance, each suppressed layer is shed and life seems a little brighter along the way.
Land Ho is reminiscesnt of director Stephens’ previous winning films, [Passenger Pigeons, 2010 SXSW Film Festival & Pilgrim Song, 2012 SXSW Film Festival], which all seem to have a main character that takes to the road when times get rough, to once again find themselves in the places unknown, and end up discovering what matters most in what lies inside, strength. Stephens also always knows how to find the best locations that quickly become part of the story, and a star of it’s own.
Katz’s directing style has progressed from his previous works of Dance Party, USA [Debut film at and 2006 SXSW Film Festival ] & Quiet City [2007 SXSW Film Festival]. He brings more of the human emotions back into his films later on with a spy mystery, Cold Weather [2010 SXSW Film Festival]. The collaboration of the two up and coming directors definitely portrayed and gripping entertaining movie that will hopefully become a classic.
In all, Land Ho was a life affirming movie. Knowing that when life throws you challenges and it doesn’t turn out the way you would like it, don’t just sit there and mope, enjoy every moment of it. Surround yourself with beautiful things and soak up every special moment. This movie is definitely not for the whole family due to language and sexual content, but it is a great movie to watch to rejuvenate to soul.
Land Ho! opens July 11 and is rated R.