Take a Drink: whenever Mitch says something crude. Take Two: if it includes a remark about a penis (or balls).
Take a Drink: every time characters have a conversation about movies or actors.
Take a Drink: whenever Mitch smokes pot.
Take a Drink: every time you think to yourself “Wow, I have got to go to Iceland!”
Take a Drink: every time someone goes swimming.
By: BabyRuth (A Toast) –
Available now on DVD, Blu-Ray, and Netflix, Sundance hit Land Ho! is the story of two sixty-something ex-brothers-in-law who take a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Iceland.
Mitch (Earl Lynn Nelson) is larger-than-life, brash, and unfiltered, the type of person you give others a heads-up about before meeting for the first time (as one character in the film does). Colin (Paul Eenhoorn of This is Martin Bonner) is the complete opposite—reserved and introverted, while also a bit defeated after the demise of his second marriage.
The two have fallen out of touch and Mitch hopes to reconnect with his old friend by inviting him to dinner at his house. But he’s got a much bigger invitation in mind once Colin arrives. Mitch announces that he recently purchased two first-class tickets to Iceland. Colin is initially reluctant, but really, how can a person turn that down? And with that the two are off, taking us along for the ride.
Over their journey the pair explore the wonder and beauty of the landscape, the culture, and cuisine, all while learning a little more about the other, and about themselves.
Co-writers and directors Aaron Katz and Martha Stephens put together some unlikely components and crafted an engaging film that is truly one-of-a-kind.
It’s hard to believe that Earl Lynn Nelson is a newcomer to acting, having appeared in his first feature only four years ago. Like his on-screen character, he is a real-life surgeon and very much “Mitch” (or rather, Mitch is very much Earl Lynn). Upon viewing the film, one would guess the part was written specifically for him. And they’d be right. Nelson is also the cousin of co-writer/director Martha Stephens and the inspiration for this film, which came to be after Stephens took a trip to Iceland and thought “we should bring Earl Lynn here.” With that, the idea for the road trip buddy comedy was born.
My mom still uses disposable cameras too.
It’s a shame that it’s taken this long for the world to meet Nelson (he was busy being a doctor and all that stuff) because what an unforgettable presence! It’s one that is made for the screen and he is an absolute natural. Of course, the idea of a boisterous older man saying shocking things is nothing new, but there’s a charm to Nelson that allows him to get away with every outrageous comment (often sexual in nature) and makes him impossible not to love.
Paul Eenhoorn couldn’t be a better (mis)match for Nelson. His quiet, elegant performance balances out Nelson’s life-of-the-party bravado. He also acts as a stand-in for the audience, reacting to Nelson’s antics and shamelessness as most people would (which most of the time would be: shaking their head while attempting to hold back an amused smile). At times, he says enough with his facial expressions that there is no need for dialogue. While Nelson is no doubt the voice of the film, Eenhoorn is the heart. There’s a moment when Colin finally lets loose, dancing like no one is watching, and it’s joyous.
It’s the chemistry of the two men that makes Land Ho! so special. Recalling similar opposites Felix and Oscar, the pair contrast and complement each other perfectly. Their exchanges flow easily and naturally, as if they really have known each other for years. In reality, their first meeting was the day the opening scene was shot. Stephens revealed to me (check out the interview following this review) that their interaction in that scene was a sort of test to see how they worked together. Throughout their journey, as Mitch and Colin rekindle their friendship, Nelson and Eenhoorn formed one of their own, and they continue to keep in touch. While scripted (by Stephens and co-director Aaron Katz), much of the dialogue was improvised with Nelson and Eenhoorn bouncing off each other and there are some very funny results (I’m not sure if the art gallery scene is one of these, but it sure had me laughing.)
There’s a third character in the film that plays just as big a part— Iceland itself. We caught a glimpse of the otherworldly country last year in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, and Land Ho! treats us to an even more intimate look. To say this is a gorgeous film would be an understatement. It’s often breathtaking. Glaciers, geysers, waterfalls, and black sand beaches, they’re all there in all their stunning beauty. It’s skillfully filmed and looks effortless due to the wonderful cinematography of Andrew Reed. The Icelandic Tourism Board owes a debt of gratitude to the filmmakers. If I had the funds, I would have booked a vacation as soon as the credits began to roll.
While viewing the film I couldn’t help but have a bit of a sense of dread, waiting for something to happen to one of the characters to break up all the fun. You know how these movies tend to go, especially with characters of a certain age. I found it extremely refreshing that this is not that type of movie. There aren’t any major conflicts or huge life-altering moments, rather it’s just two people experiencing something amazing together and changing a little because of it. It’s simply a slice of life, go-with-the-flow, character-driven adventure that never feels forced or false.
Land Ho! is a unique and surprising gem. Visually stunning and gently moving, it’s beautiful in its simplicity. The more time you spend with Mitch and Colin, the more infectious the film becomes. Come for the beautiful scenery, stay for a touching story of friendship. There needs to be more movies like this.
And I’d party with these guys anytime!
Make sure and check out our Interview with Land Ho! Co-Writer & Co-Director Martha Stephens as well!