Land Ho! contains two of the most riveting and funny characters to ever possibly grace the silver screen. Full of memorable lines and beautiful sights, this is a standard road movie that is a showcase for some outstanding performances and a heartwarming script. You’ll quote Mitch for the rest of your life, and wish you could have a drink or two with him. Just go see the damn film.
Director: Aaron Katz, Martha Stephens.
Screenplay: Aaron Katz, Martha Stephens
Runtime: 95 minutes.
Cast: Earl Lynn Nelson, Paul Eenhoorn, Karrie Crouse, Elizabeth McKee.
Reviewed by Drew Ninnis.
Viewed as part of the Canberra International Film Festival.
Plot: Mitch and Colin are former brothers-in-law and old friends, compelled to catch up every few years and shoot the breeze. This time retiring surgeon Mitch has a proposition for his friend, come along to Iceland first class and have the time of his life. Colin knows Mitch won’t take no for an answer, so the two are off for adventure and repose. Running into a cast of characters, the two contemplate life and the events that have brought them to where they are today.
Festival Goers? Absolutely see it.
Review: 'This is like angels pissing on your tongue. You'll love it' Texan retiree Mitch tells his former brother-in-law and still good friend Colin. That sums up Mitch the character, and it sums up Land Ho! the film – I defy you not to have a good time, despite whatever reservations you may have. And that’s exactly what the film is about, as quiet and reserved Colin contemplates the regrets that fill his life years after his wife’s death, and catches up with Mitch to see how the old character is doing. 'You gotta reach down for a handful of guts and get on with life' is how Mitch his doing; a cinematic character so indelible and rollickingly funny you won’t ever forget him. Sure, we’ve all known extraverted, sometimes nosy, sometimes abrasive guys like him but we always end up loving them for their giant hearts and generosity, as well as their ability to capture hilarious wisdom in the crassest way possible. That’s Mitch, and the film is a portrait of two men’s unlikely friendship as one drags the other to adventure in Iceland and beyond.
'Lighthouses remind me of rock hard cocks with no balls’ Mitch remarks at one point among the beautiful landscape, and I requote here for no other reason than the simple pleasure of enjoying the man’s turn of phrase again and again. Earl Lynn Nelson paints the character in broadest of Texan colours possible, with a performance of a lifetime. But veteran Paul Eenhoorn is equally as powerful, playing the subtle straightman to Mitch’s antics, soothing things over nicely with the other amused characters they cross paths with. This includes Mitch’s young niece and her friend, as well as a couple honeymooning in the breathtaking countryside of Iceland – with Mitch indelicately inquiring 'How many times have you hit the mat in the last four days? Aw, no comment?' I don’t think I’ve laughed so hard at a fart since I was four years old; all because of Mitch, and the surprisingly delicate way said fart breaks the tension between old friends who love each other and forgive just about as quickly as they fight. There’s nothing innovative or new about Land Ho!; it’s just a good, old fashioned road film that showcases its leading characters. That those leads are so moving you’ll wish you knew them yourself and could have a few beers now and then, is a testament to the quality of the script, the performance, and the directors.
The film has a sensibility that is impossible to describe. The only thing I can say is that it reminds me of my Uncle Bruce; a friend of the family who has the kindest, most decent heart and is a roar of a good time at parties. You’ll feel the same way about Mitch and Colin at the close of the film; they’ll remind you of those people you treasure, for their character and their goodness. It’s a blessing, and it’s all contained within the deceptive package of Land Ho! 'Like he's got goats in his garden' Mitch remarks, another gem and one for the road. Enough of my yapping, go see the damn film.
Rating: Four stars.