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Land Ho!

Like The Trip minus the dueling celebrity impressions and most of the food porn, Land Ho! is a road movie about two men driving around a scenic area doing nothing in particular. Mitch (Earl Lynn Nelson) and Colin (Paul Eenhoorn) were once brothers-in-law who were always friendly but haven’t seen much of each other since divorce put Mitch in the family’s bad graces. Now that Colin’s wife has died, they renew contact and decide to take a vacation to Iceland.

Why Iceland, you might say? I’d love to take a trip there, but I recognize that this is not a universal aspiration. And for this kind of character-driven comedy-drama, the actual setting is pretty irrelevant, as long as it looks nice. I would guess that writer-directors Aaron Katz and Martha Stephens got some funding from Iceland and set sail. If that’s the case, they earned their money: They take their old odd couple to some beautiful locations, and the Icelandic tourism bureau should be very happy with this film.

But even if you’re not big on looking at ruggedly gorgeously scenery (there’s a waterfall here that has to be seen to be believed), Land Ho! is a pleasant evening spent with a pair of over-the-hill characters. Eenhoorn (whom you may remember if you saw the excellent This Is Martin Bonner last year at the Screening Room) is the quieter of the two, having had a difficult time of life. Nelson is a non-professional actor (he’s related to co-director Stephens) who plays himself: a retired eye surgeon with a thick Kentucky accent and absolutely no filter between his brain and his mouth, a trait exacerbated by his fondness for pot. He’s the kind of crude old codger who gets away with murder partly from panache and partly from being in his 70s.

Not a whole lot happens in Land Ho!, but that’s the state of life these two men are in: one is financially secure, the other less so, and the future doesn’t offer a whole lot of change for them. But they are what they are, and by being neither superhuman nor condescendingly cute, they make for a unique portayal of septuagenarians in current American cinema.

Watch the trailer for Land Ho!

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