Road trip buddy movies are not exactly untreaded territory when it comes to films. They have been done time and time again with the idea behind it all of putting two unlike people together in the small confines of a car or traveling through a foreign land together and you are likely to get plenty of comedic moments. Blah, blah, blah. Or at least that is how I feel going into most films of the sort. Then a film like this comes along and you think that someone, in this case the two directors and screenwriters Aaron Katz and Martha Stephens (Pilgrim Song), is trying to inject some life into the genre by making it about two older friends reconnecting by traveling to Iceland. Different, yes. Good, no, unfortunately.
Two former brother-in-laws, Mitch (Earl Lynn Nelson – Pilgrim Song) and Colin (Paul Eenhoorn – This is Martin Bonner), who have not seen each other in many years get back in contact. Mitch, who lives in New Orleans, invites Colin to a cabin he is renting and then drops the bomb on him that he has purchased first-class tickets for them to fly to Iceland. Despite Colin’s protests Mitch insists on paying for everything in regards to the trip as he just wants to reconnect with his old friend.
From the beginning it is apparent that the two men are very different. Mitch is more outgoing, likes good food, smoking a joint now and then, and telling crude jokes whereas Colin is more cerebral and quiet. The trip in Iceland begins in the nice restaurants and clubs of Reykjavik and then moves on to a tour of the more rugged countryside.
The film is an exploration of aging, loneliness and friendship in our twilight years. All great ideas for a film and yet it does not add up to something great with Land Ho!. At the bottom of all the problems with the film is the fact that there is precious little story here to dig your teeth into. I kept waiting expecting something to happen and it never did. I felt a little ripped off. They both seem to be on this trip in order to get their groove back and yet nothing really happens. Ok, one small thing happens to Colin towards the end, but even that is underplayed.
As there is no story then I turned to character development and again they came up empty. Nothing really gets revealed about either character nor does either undergo any revelation or change. The dialogue they thought was going to be shocking (coming out of the mouth of an older person) just didn’t work and ended up annoying rendering that character a caricature and a little annoying.
What was a plus in the film was the scenery. Iceland is not a country you often get to see in film and it was a pleasant change. Especially when they left Reykjavik and show the more rough and beautiful parts of the country.
-L.A. Film Fest Q&A with Paul Eedhoorn, Earl Lynn Nelson, Martha Stephens, Aaron Katz and Elizabeth McKee
-Previews of Love is Strange, Whiplash, Third Person, Jdorowsky’s Dune, The Lunchbox