I don’t relish the role of party pooper, but Land Ho! did not live up to my expectations. The micro-indie won so many plaudits at the Sundance Film Festival this year—and a distribution deal from Sony Pictures Classics—that I had every reason to anticipate a (modestly) rewarding experience. What I got was a likable but very slight seriocomedy. It’s not bad, but it had no particular resonance, either. Perhaps if I’d discovered it at Sundance, knowing nothing about it, I might have had a different response.
Land Ho! is about two ex-brothers-in-law who haven’t seen each other in a while. Mitch (Earl Lynn Nelson) is a retired doctor with a rowdy, sexually charged sense of humor. Sheer boredom inspires him to invite the taciturn Aussie Colin (Paul Eenhoorn), also a restless retiree, to join him on a trip to Iceland. Their trip involves a variety of scenic adventures and personal encounters along the way. Mitch’s nonstop exuberance gets on Colin’s nerves at times, but the two senior citizens manage to cover a lot of ground and shake themselves out of their comfort zone.
Nelson is not a professional actor, but filmmakers Martha Stephens and Aaron Katz take full advantage of his outgoing personality, which stands in sharp contrast to Eenhoorn’s quiet demeanor. Exotic Iceland provides a wide variety of backdrops—from a geyser to an inviting hot-springs pool—for the film’s varied vignettes.
Land Ho! is perfectly pleasant viewing, but I wanted more from it than I got.