San Francisco Chronicle
POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Aug 22, 2014
The idea of friends or family trying to reconnect by traveling to a foreign land is a well-worn motif in film. We can expect to see tension, laughter and a personal epiphany or two.
Aside from setting the movie in Iceland, the makers of "Land Ho!" don't stray too far from this formula except in the most unfortunate ways: There is no personal growth and certainly no epiphanies. Instead of character arc, we get a plodding straight line.
In this serviceable but ultimately inconsequential indie drama, Colin (Paul Eenhoorn) and Mitch (Earl Lynn Nelson) are two elderly friends and former brothers-in-law who travel to Iceland. Both carry baggage, both the literal and figurative kind.
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Colin's second wife has just left him, and his first wife has passed away. Mitch is a surgeon who retired rather than be fired from his job. Both grapple with the reality of growing old, a life filled with boredom and loneliness.
A trip to the healing spas of Iceland is just what the two friends need to rejuvenate their lives. But as written and directed by Martha Stephens and Aaron Katz, "Land Ho!" offers little else other than breathtaking shots of Iceland.
The film is riddled with cliches. There are several high-fives, half-hearted sex jokes and lines like "Just like the good old days." Ouch.
Colin is quiet and conservative. Mitch likes to smoke weed and talk about female body parts. The two call to mind Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau, only considerably less funny. Call them "Mildly Annoyed Old Men."
You realize fairly early in the film that there will be no emotional payoff. Just an hour and a half of vacation photos in motion.